Spider Web Charts

Alex Leonov's Blog

They look cool. Why? Nobody understand what’s in there. Most of its data can be presented in a bar chart. And it should be.

I guess, the only case where spider web charts are good is when you have many axis, and all of the values need to be at the same level. Kind of a circle.

Use bar charts. Okay, and line charts. Use them, too.

Better Networking

Alex Leonov's Blog

This weekend I ran a pilot workshop on networking skills. What I’ve found is that it is really easy for people just to show up at events. It “ticks the box”. The problem is that it doesn’t get them anywhere.

You need a clear understanding of what you want to get from networking, and a solid (even if simple) plan on how to go about it.

Spending this hour of your time to create a networking plan will save you weeks of frustration, and will move you much, much closer to your goals.

Where Does the Shareholder Value Come From?

Alex Leonov's Blog

Too often you will see shareholder value as short-term stock price hikes. We all know where it leads, we’ve read the news about companies crashing. Some shareholders get rich, some not. And what about the staff? When company breaks apart because it was chasing short-term profits and ignored the longer time frames, what happens to the livelihoods of people who were working there?

The real shareholder value comes from six things: short-term tactics (balance), long-term strategy (growth), asset use (earnings), cash flow (freedom), robustness (stability), and resilience (change). If one is missing, somebody will get hurt.

Dictionary Passwords and WiFi

Alex Leonov's Blog

I’ve been doing a penetration test recently. Once you’re in the network, generally you can get stuff done. So, I decided to skip phishing and try the WiFi - just for the sake of it.

Getting a handshake capture was trivial. Starting password cracker was even easier. And then, within minutes, there was a match.

Having a long password does not mean a thing, if it is in the “most popular passwords” list. So, when you are feeling creative and craft a long and funny password, check it against dictionary attacks first.

After trying the key, and getting into the network, the rest was easy. Protect your WiFi!

Illustrations: What Happens When You Do Not Outsource

Alex Leonov's Blog

You can do a lot of illustrations in PowerPoint, and they will get the message across. Sometimes, you need subtle nuances on the picture, too.

At this point, you either find someone who can design things for you, or do it yourself.

In my case, I need very specific models, illustrations, and diagrams. Explaining someone what I need will take so much time that it’s just ineffective. This is why I’ve been learning Adobe Illustrator for a while. Step by step, I can now build draw models in a matter of minutes.

And then, I realised something. Now I have one more skill in my bag. You can get a skill ike that, too.

Time Management

Alex Leonov's Blog

Here’s one of my descriptions in six words: “Take Time. Do Everything. Have Time.”

I like to take time to think, and to relax. In the meantime, the pressure builds up. Then, at some point, I do everything in a sprint-like fashion, to keep on track. After that, I have my relaxation and thinking time back.

Because, if we never take time, how can we ever have time?

Building Bridges

Alex Leonov's Blog

Most of my career I worked as a translator. First, from Russian to Russian, then from English to Russian, then from English to English, and then from English to English again. Doesn’t make sense? Good.

When you have two people in the room, and they come from different background, different departments, and even different generations, it is hard for them to find a common language. They may both speak English, or they may not. In this case, it is irrelevant. Deeply technical person will not understand the marketing person, and vice versa. This is where I come in.

Somehow, over the years, I’ve built this fantastic skill to build bridges between people. In the end of a conversation, they suddenly realise that they were talking about the same thing. It was not an argument, but a search for mutual understanding.

And this mutual understanding is what unites the organisations, and propels them forward. Fast.

Change, Pressure, Pain, and The Way Out

Alex Leonov's Blog

Things change. Getting better salary, more sunlight hours, cheaper meat at the groceries - we like that kind of change. Why then so many change initiatives at work give us so much grief?

It’s all about pressure. The need for change is always there. If we ignore it for a while, the pressure builds up, and the it hurts both to stay where we are, and to change to where we need to be.

The key is to change bit by bit, all the time. Then the pressure doesn’t build up, and minor differences between yesterday and today don’t really bother anyone.

It is resilience - surviving changed. And it is good.

Cybersecurity Is About IT

Alex Leonov's Blog

I have regular conversations with small business owners, and there is an overwhelming theme. Almost everybody sees cybersecurity as an “IT problem”.

Of course, it is. There, I said it. Cybersecurity is about IT.

Like cash-flow is about accounting, sales are about cold-calling, and staff development is about once-a-year performance reviews.

/sarcasm + further reading

Giving Feedback & Toastmasters

Alex Leonov's Blog

As a part of your Toastmasters journey, you often evaluate others. The best thing that you learn is to give negative feedback in a constructive and helpful way. Instead of saying “your gestures were one-sided” you go with “expanding your gestures to both hands will make you more expressive”.

Suddenly, your feedback is no longer negative, but gives the person a way to improve.

To someone both versions may sound the same. But when you are on a receiving end of such feedback, it makes a difference.