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FBI Warns Against Using Hotel Wi-Fi for Work



The FBI says hotels in cities across the US have lax security allowing for easy exploitation by malicious actors.

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October 9, 2020 3 min read

This story originally appeared on PCMag

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is worried about hotel Wi-Fi across the US. So worried in fact, the bureau is asking remote workers to think twice before using it.

The public service announcement was released earlier this week and is a reaction to an increasing number of hotels offering daytime room reservations for “guests seeking a quiet, distraction-free work environment.” That works for the hotels chains desperate to increase their revenue during a pandemic where nobody is traveling or renting hotel rooms. It’s also very tempting for anyone remote working from home surrounded by distracting family members all day, especially if the hotel chain is known to have very fast Wi-Fi.

The FBI points out that attackers purposefully target hotels in a bid to steal personal details from guests. Lots of people accessing hotel Wi-Fi in a confined space means lots of potential victims, with an “evil twin attack” typically used to create an alternative malicious wireless network that’s easily mistaken for a hotel’s real Wi-Fi service. Now imagine you accidentally connect to the malicious network and access a secure work portal all day. That’s not going to end well for anyone except the attacker.

Related: Watch Out! If You Have These Applications, the ‘Joker’ Malware Is Stealing Your Data

If you are or intend to use hotel Wi-Fi for work, the FBI’s announcement lists a number of signs to look out for as a tell your device may have been compromised. They include your mobile device running slowly or launching apps on its own, automatic website redirections, pop-up adverts appearing more often, battery life becoming much worse than expected, your cursor moving on its own, or you start receiving a lot more unwanted emails, text messages, or calls. All are quite obvious and should start alarm bells ringing in your head, but they can be easily missed or dismissed out of hand if you’re trying to work.

The easiest way to avoid poor hotel Wi-Fi security is to not to use it. Take advantage of the quiet room being offered, but bring your own wireless access via a mobile hotspot and data sim. For extra protection use a VPN, and as the FBI suggests, always ensure your devices have all security and operating system updates installed before leaving the house. Alternatively, forget the hotel room completely and use the money saved to upgrade your Wi-Fi router at home and buy a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.


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How Entrepreneurs Can Harness The Power of Social Media for Good



October 22, 2020 7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

“Is there a problem and what is the problem?” a narrator asks his subjects, as they stare off into the distance against an ominous score. Some clear their throats, while others stumble with words or offer half-smiles in response.  

You get the sense that something both sinister and monumental is about to be revealed on the screen. 

Like everyone else, I began watching the recent docudrama film, The Social Dilemma with eager anticipation. Most of my friends and colleagues had recommended it to me over the past few weeks, and I finally set some time aside to view what had received so many mixed reviews.  

In the film, you see former employees of , Facebook, , and other similarly large platforms, speak about the negative impact of tech giants on our behaviors. It’s a darkly entertaining documentary that hooks you with its sensationalist play-acting — using dramatized segments and even a villainous algorithm to drive home its point.

Related: 9 Ways to Rewire Your Brain for Creativity

It’s meant as a cautionary tale about how social media is eating at the foundations of , yet halfway through, it felt like I was watching just another episode of Black Mirror, rather than a nuanced take about our modern condition. 

By the end, I felt both drained and demoralized. Not because I bought into the distorted view that these platforms are pure evil. But because despite all the hoopla surrounding the film, it ended up being a simplistic assessment used to stoke more fear and outrage.

While some loved it, many criticized the docudrama for showing technology as if it’s a completely bad thing. 

Here’s the thing: it’s not. 

The Social Dilemma discounts the notion of using social networks creatively or critically, sometimes to the point of condescension,” writes Adi Robertson in a story for The Verge. “But it’s easy to find people thoughtfully engaging with these apps, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has turned screens into some of the only safe public spaces.”

As CEO of a tech company, I feel a personal responsibility to clarify what in my opinion, the film gets wrong:

Technology doesn’t harm, but your uneducated relationship with tech does

Fourteen years ago when I launched my startup JotForm, I relied on the same idea most business owners hold — that execution is everything.

Today, it’s clear to me that while this remains true, as an entrepreneur, I also need to stay in the loop of what’s happening in my industry. But this level of learning doesn’t just happen by reading books. 

So much wisdom and useful knowledge are being created on Twitter, blogs, and newsletters. 

It’s easy to criticize social media platforms, but this misleading “tech is bad” approach misses the point, eventually destroying our ability to benefit from the useful knowledge to be gained. And this logic applies to benefiting from any network. 

Related: Ways in Which Technology is Affecting the Youth Today

Take Twitter. If you don’t get value from Twitter you’re using it wrong. The site has been an excellent resource for inspiration and for finding other entrepreneurs from around the world who share their insights, tools, and strategies. It also allows us to engage with customers in a way we couldn’t replicate offline.

Let me offer an alternative view to what The Social Dilemma poses.

Tech giants aren’t ruining society. But our untamed, unmitigated relationship to tech is. 

Allowing our every minute to get sucked into a never ending loop of distraction is simply unhealthy.

So, what am I advocating for?

Rather than spend our time blaming social media for all of society’s ills, it’s on us to disrupt this cycle and find a responsible way to reclaim our attention.

Here are three strategies for taking a healthier approach to social networks:

1. Become the master of your devices

According to Harvard Business Review contributor Steve Glaveski, push-notifications are sapping our ability to get into flow and do our best work, but “You can be more intentional about the way you design your technology environment,” he writes.

In other words: the ability to control our minds starts with us. 

We get to decide how we educate ourselves and restore our time. 

For instance, a free tool like Mailbrew helps you receive all the tweets or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time YOU decide. Similarly, you can also use the Freedom App to block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. “The more you notice and stop yourself from reaching for your smartphone, the more it will become second nature,” Glaveski notes.

So, instead of being a slave to push notifications, you can use these tools to empower yourself without missing the wise advantages of social platforms. 

2. Eliminate an “always on” company culture

Disrupting an unhealthy relationship to tech begins with us, but it doesn’t end there. Entrepreneurs should be setting this example for their team by promoting a balanced workplace. Meaning: the change starts at the level of .

We do this by clearly delineating the parameters between our “on” and “off” hours, and communicating that it’s okay to not respond to things immediately. At JotForm, this has become one of the core tenets of how I want to run my business. It’s important that I foster a culture where we have strict boundaries in place for screen time and prioritize mental well being.

3. An antidote to our social dilemma? Periodically unplug

My staff often poke fun of me for being the spokesperson for alone time. It’s an inside joke I’m proud to own up to and widely encourage.

I can’t stress enough how necessary periodically unplugging is. “Solitude is an essential way to replenish our energy,” says psychotherapist Arnie Kozak in an interview with NBC Better. “Without such solitude, we are bound to be more stressed by the unrelenting busyness of life, the massive amounts of information we wade through every day, and the energetic demands of being around other people.”

The answer then to The Social Dilemma’s question: “Is there a problem and what is the problem?” isn’t in breaking up with our social media (and consequently, all the beneficial wisdom).

If I’ve learned anything in over a decade of , it’s this: educating ourselves to spend more quality time alone without our devices is one of the most essential ways to maintain a healthy connection to tech.

But perhaps Glaveski puts it best: “By being more intentional about our relationship with technology, we can cultivate a work environment in which we are not only more productive, but also more fulfilled and actualized versions of ourselves.”

Related: As TikTok Teeters, These 3 Social Networks Are Ready to Pounce


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What Can Marketers Learn From Quibi’s Failure?



June 26, 2020 6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

By any metric, is a failure.

The mobile-video platform hit #1,477 in the IOS app store’s rankings in early June. Advertisers are renegotiating due to low viewership. Even founder Jeffrey Katzenberg expressed disappointment. Two months after launch, he stated that, “It’s not up to what we wanted. It’s not close to what we wanted.”

Related: Quibi Is Shutting Down After 6 Disappointing Months

How did this happen? 

At first glance, Quibi’s success seems guaranteed.

They had the leadership. Jeffrey Katzenberg and are at the helm. They’re two of the biggest names in tech and entertainment. Katzenberg co-founded Dreamworks. Whitman was the CEO of Hewlett-Packard and eBay. A short-form mobile-video platform should be up their alley.

They had the money. The duo raised a $1.8 billion war chest. A who’s who of Hollywood and tech invested, including , NBCUniversal, Sony, Viacom, , Lionsgate, MGM, Alibaba Group, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

The market conditions were perfect. Paid subscriptions for streaming-video services hit all-time highs. set record sign-ups during quarantine. They added nearly 16 million subscribers in Q1. Disney+ more than doubled its total subscriber base.

COVID-19 should have helped them. Due to quarantine, screen time increased dramatically. U.S. mobile usage increased 23 additional minutes, and 10 of those minutes were on mobile video. Quibi offers programs in five-to-10-minute chunks. 

Related: Do Quibi’s Problems Come Down to a Confusing Name?

In spite of these ideal market conditions, Quibi is imploding. Two months after launch, Quibi had 1.3 million active users. For perspective, Disney+ generated 41 million installs in the same time period. 

How could Quibi fail? By all accounts it had the wind at its back.

The answer: a complete misunderstanding of their consumer.

Quibi was touted as having “fresh content from today’s biggest stars.” Neither was true. Quibi’s target audience is 18-34-year-olds. You wouldn’t know it by looking at its content. It feels like it was curated by grandparents. Well meaning, but out of touch, grandparents who think that MTV is still what “the kids are into these days.”

Quibi is filled with reboots of shows from 20 years ago. Reno 911!, Singled Out and Punk’d, to name a few. Reno 911! and Punk’d premiered in 2003. Singled Out first aired in 1995. Most of Quibi’s target audience hadn’t even been born yet. 

At least those shows were relevant for some of Quibi’s target audience. They just added a 60 Minutes spinoff, 60 in 6. No disrespect to 60 Minutes (it is a great show), but I have a hard time imagining anyone eager to pay for an extra six minutes of it, let alone 18-34-year-olds. In fact, the median age of a 60 Minutes viewer is over 60.

So Quibi made some odd programming choices. Surely they delivered on their promise of “today’s biggest stars.” Right? 


Quibi is stacked with traditional celebrities including Laura Dern, Reese Witherspoon, John Travolta, Patton Oswalt and Idris Elba (to name a few). All are incredibly talented. However, they’re all lacking one really important thing: any relevance or star appeal to the target. They have awareness, but awareness doesn’t lead to passion. Passion doesn’t lead to sales. 

Who is the target passionate about? Is it big Hollywood movie stars? Is it Reese Witherspoon and John Travolta? No. It’s digital influencers. They’re the biggest stars to Gen-Z. Not traditional celebrities. 

Who is the most influential person amongst teens? According to research from Piper Sandler, David Dobrik is. Gaming Streamer Ninja gets more social media mentions than any professional athlete. The most desired job among teens is to become a YouTuber. Quibi’s audience does not want to be movie stars, nor do they care about them. This is not new information

Reese Witherspoon is a talented actress. Is she the reason millions of 20-somethings pay for a streaming service? No. She’s not. However, they’d probably do it for Dobrik. 

So what could Quibi have done?

Emily Nussbaum, a staff writer at the New Yorker, recently asked her Twitter followers that same question. One VC replied that Quibi should get Dobrik and MrBeast (two popular YouTubers) on the platform. He expounded that Quibi should give MrBeast “a massive budget and watch him create magic.” 

MrBeast’s manager replied, and it turns out that they did pitch a show to Quibi … and were turned down.

This should have been a no-brainer for Quibi. If you want to draw in millions of viewers, wouldn’t you want to work with someone that has a proven track record of doing that? MrBeast isn’t just a YouTuber with a large following. He’s a one-man media empire. To say passing on MrBeast was a mistake is an understatement.

For context, MrBeast (real name Jimmy Donaldson) is a YouTuber known for outlandish giveaways and stunts. For example, he once tipped his pizza delivery guy a house and recently built the world’s tallest Lego tower. His channel has 37 million subscribers and nearly six billion views. 

There are more 18-34-years-olds watching MrBeast than all of Quibi. At this stage, Quibi will be lucky if they get 30 percent of the way to their first-year subscribership goals.

Related: Can Hollywood Survive Streaming?

What’s the lesson marketers can learn from this mess?

The reason for this utter mess is that Quibi ignored their target customer. They didn’t take the time to invest in, and learn, what 18-34-year-olds care about.That’s why they went with traditional stars instead of digital stars. It’s why they’re rebooting shows from 20 years ago. 

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got billions of dollars. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got talented executives with the perfect pedigree. It doesn’t matter if you have perfect market conditions. 

You cannot spend your way out of a fundamental mistake. This is marketing 101. Know your consumer.


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‘The Alignment Factor’: The Keys to Internal Alignment



October 22, 2020 7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

This is the first in an exclusive series of articles from Total Alignment authors Riaz Khadem and Linda Khadem titled “The Alignment Factor.” Check back in every Thursday for new installments. 

Every entrepreneur knows that alignment with the market, or external alignment, is vital to the success of the . But what about internal alignment? Internal alignment is just as important and includes the alignment of people in an organization to work efficiently and collaboratively to fulfill the purpose of the company.

The alignment of people has two distinct characteristics: alignment with a center and alignment with movement. The first is primarily in the realm of thought; the second in the realm of action. In alignment with the center, the thinking of people is aligned with a single point of reference. In alignment with movement, people’s talents and energies are directed to activities related to the execution of to move the organization toward its vision.

Successful startups provide a good example of alignment with the center. Cohesion with a center is manifested in the leadership of the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur’s mission becomes the mission of all, and the alignment with a center is assured. The entrepreneur’s keen sense of the needs of the market translates into a vision of the future and a strategy for achieving it. Vision and strategy set the direction for the movement of the workforce.

Related: The 4 Levels of Organizational Alignment

If the company is successful, momentum generated from this two-fold alignment spurs it to significant levels of growth and success, which further reinforces the alignment with the center and with movement. A state of alignment exists in most successful startups, as the twin conditions of alignment are simultaneously present.

Challenges of Misalignment

As a company continues to grow and expand, misalignment inevitably creeps in. Things become increasingly complex, and many issues arise. For example, financing the growth may become difficult. Staying up to date with the needs of a changing market is a challenge, and the inability to receive timely and relevant key information to guide decisions becomes a roadblock.

As a business continues to scale up, the need for financial resources and new talent often dilutes the control and even influence of the original founder. Soon, the alignment is lost as new voices are heard and new people bring in their own vision and input. Often the new perspectives are what the company needs, but how does the internal alignment survive all these transitions? The entrepreneur is unable to sustain the two-fold dimensions of internal alignment.

As the organization grows larger, so does the challenge of misalignment, overt or covert. Misalignment slows the progress of the organization and disempowers the committed team, while promoting the personal agendas of individuals. Many entrepreneurial organizations fail during scale-up.

The Alignment Solution

To help the organization during this scale-up process, a new structure is required. It is wise to avoid the trap of adopting old structures and practices where misalignment can easily enter and prosper. A fundamentally new infrastructure is needed to deliver the firm’s promises and in a state of alignment. A series of transformational processes becomes necessary for building that infrastructure and using it to navigate through the scale-up phase of growth.

The transformational process must begin by engaging the entrepreneur and the top team in meaningful conversation with everyone’s participation. At this stage of expansion, a new mission and core values should be defined to serve as the new center of alignment. Agreement with that center is assured when everyone is involved and provides input into the creation of the mission and values. The same team should engage in formulating a shared vision of the future and strategies to realign with the market. The vision and strategy that emerge from such a process sets the direction of movement for all employees. 

It is important to guard the process of alignment from being misaligned itself. Alignment must not be forced. True alignment will come about naturally through active participation, involvement and understanding. Further, the actors in this alignment activity must know that alignment enhances, not diminishes, the of everyone. Creativity and are the necessary elements of growth. In an aligned state, when the direction of movement is clear and the responsibilities are spelled out, the individual’s creativity becomes more focused on fueling the speed of movement rather than flowing haphazardly.

The value of the process of building an infrastructure of alignment must be clearly understood and agreed upon in order to ensure the sincere participation of all the parties. Without understanding and wholehearted acceptance, the process will not truly result in alignment. Personal opinions abound and should be channeled in a constructive flow to contribute to the transformational process. For this reason, the facilitation of the process must be done with care, patience and respect for everyone’s point of view. A positive and attentive approach in facilitation eventually wins any natural resistance to this effort.

 The Role of Methodology

The existence of methodology is key to implementing internal alignment. It is far easier to unite different points of view in the presence of a sound methodology that everyone understands, rather than the exchange of differing opinions without a methodology. It is far easier to facilitate consensus in a group consultation, for example, in the presence of a set of ground rules for discussion that everyone accepts.

With the correct methodology being used, the following results should be forthcoming: an inspiring mission, vision and values; creative strategy; clear accountability; cross-functional collaboration; access to data; enhanced competencies; and ability to deliver value to customers.

What Does Alignment Look Like?

In a state of alignment, the organization has an inspiring mission guided by core values that are never violated. The mission is not just making money. Rather, it is about providing some service or product that add to human prosperity. Mission gives everyone meaning to their jobs, a reason to strive for excellence.

The organization has a vision of success and goals for delivering its worthy mission. Goals are challenging and require effort and creativity to reach. A strategy for achieving vision has been devised based on a sound strategic process and the involvement of the organization’s strategic thinkers.

Strategy to achieve vision has set the direction for all employees. It is a roadmap to success that is specific enough to allow each employee to find his or her clear path of contribution to its success, yet flexible enough to change with the changing external environment.

In a state of alignment, each individual contributes to the execution of strategy (vertical alignment), as well as collaborates with others (horizontal alignment). In a state of alignment, a rhythm of conversation in teams and between collaborators is present to consult on progress, devise plans of action, act and then reflect on action aimed at sustaining alignment and moving the organization forward toward its vision.

Related: Getting Employees to Tell the Whole Truth When You Need to Hear It

The state of alignment has immense power and will enable the entrepreneurial organization to stay united, survive the difficult scaling up phase and emerge with extraordinary success as a recognized player in its market. It has the power to bring positive change based on fulfilling its well-defined and worthy mission while adhering to meaningful core values.


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