My Browsing Set Up

my browsing setup

 Safe As Houses?

My browsing setup is the first line of defence in my recent attempt to become more secure and private on-line. We all browse the internet but perhaps we don’t always think about the dark side.

I wrote a recent blog post titled  Internet Security and Privacy . This discusses some of the reasons why we should take a little more care. You can read it here. There are lots of reasons for being cautious, and so after lots of experimentation this is now my browsing setup.

My Browsing Setup

I don’t say it’s state of the art, but my browsing setup is a lot better than it used to be.duckduckgo

To begin with I changed my search engine. I decided I didn’t want Google tracking me on-line, then using that information to make money. You might miss out on the odd useful thing but this way Google does know everything I do. I use DuckDuckGo. It’s nice and simple and it won’t track your searches.

downloadNext I installed It will protect you from attack by making your IP address invisible. This will make it far less likely that you will spied on.

mozilla-firefoxThen I moved my browser over to Mozilla’s excellent browser Firefox. I chose Firefox because of the brilliant add-ons  you can use. There’s a lot to choose from and some of the most useful are these.


Firefox Addons

No Script is a really neat little add-on that monitors what the webpage you are visiting is up to. It stops scripts running that you might not be happy about. It’s easy to fine tune and I really like the way it provides feedback in real-time.

Ad Block Plus is a simple way to block tracking, malware domains and a ton more. I also use TrackMeNot. The name of this add-on speaks for itself because it stops you being tracked on-line.

I chose the next one because of its name, but it is actually a really neat way of avoiding spam by offering to set you up a temporary email address. The address expires in 15 minutes. Use it when you sign up for things and don’t want to be bothered later. It’s called Bloody Vikings  I love the name too!

No Script AddonAd Block PlusTrack Me NotBloody Vikings

Virus Protection

intego-backupmgrpro-270x270Next I had a look at Virus protection and after testing a few chose Intego Mac Internet Security. I like its cool interface and it has everything I need while in my Mac world.

To keep on top of the vast number of passwords I use, I installed a password manager to keep them in one place. It also allows me to generate new ones and automatically fills in logins whenever I want. I use 1 Password.

Because I use, I have also installed FlagFox as an add-on which puts a little flag in my browser to tell me where my in the world my IP has been set.

Intego Mac Security1 PasswordFlagFox


dropboxDropbox is great. It’s a really indispensable part of my workflow. Problem is – their security is not fantastic. So I’ve spent a little time working out how to make anything you put in Dropbox more secure. I use a new service called Sookasa. It encrypts files on the fly and is really easy to set and use.


There’s lot’s more I’ve learnt about software tools but much more to find out but I think I’m just a little safer on-line now than I was though.

Question: Let me know what your browsing setup is and I’m always pleased to receive advice too. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Internet Security – How Safe Are You?

internet security

Why we should all worry about internet security and privacy and what I’ve done to manage mine

This is a post about internet security – are your eyes glazing over yet? But just a minute, do you use Facebook or LinkedIn? Which search engine do you use? Whose email service do you use to send your messages across the invisible electronic web?

I know that before I started to be more careful I was happily using all sorts of software, content that because so many other people were also using it that I was safe and there was no problem.

Occasionally when I loaded yet another tool onto my computer or as I updated those apps I wondered about the little window I click on automatically, without thinking. You know, the little box that says that you agree to the terms of use. Here’s some of the things you authorise when clicking that you agree.

LinkedIn Terms of Use

‘A worldwide, transferable and sub-licensable right to use, copy, modify, distribute, publish, and process, information and content that you provide through our Services, without any further consent, notice and/or compensation to you or others.’ (Terms of Use)

So you agree to let LinkedIn have access to all your content and use it for any purpose. Forever. For free.

Google’s Terms of Use

‘When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.’ (Terms of Use)

That’s right, when you use Google Docs or you load content onto Google Drive you are giving Google the rights to that content.

Marc Goodman Future Crimes

If you want to read about more of this kind of hair-raising material you should visit Marc Goodman’s website or read his fascinating book called Future Crimes.

It doesn’t stop there unfortunately. If you have an iPhone I suggest you take a look at the settings and then see what the apps you have installed are allowed to do. How many of them can access your camera, or the microphone?

The rather unnerving possibility is that your phone might be watching or listening to where you are or what you’re doing right now. If you have an internet connected smart TV there is a good chance that the TV is watching you while you eat your supper watching Game of Thrones.

internet securityMarc Zuckerberg knows a thing or two about the internet. You can see the precautions he takes in the picture here. There’s a link to the Guardian article about this story here.

We are in this situation because most of us are really hopeless at internet security. When it comes down to it, there are just too many passwords and it’s much easier to just have one or two that we can easily remember.

We also operate on the basis on a kind of presumed herd immunity. If everyone’s doing it, it must be safe – right?

Take Action

I’m not going to pretend I’m some kind of cyber expert – I’m not. However Marc Goodman has some really helpful advice for you. He calls it the UPDATE PROTOCOL.

In response I’ve adopted various tools and practices which work for me and aren’t too intrusive. It might not make me completely safe, but I’m happier sitting down in front of my machine knowing that these little tweaks are busy in the background. I’ve included Marc’s infographic below.

Question: What do you do to protect yourself on-line? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

UPDATE protocol

The 5 Hard Truths Behind Becoming A Better Boss

become a better boss

We all want to believe that we are a better boss than average. You know, the kind that inspires the affection, commitment and respect of the people they lead. Trouble is, on a normal distribution of the good and not so good bosses, half of us will be below average. How can we become a better boss and what are the hard truths about becoming a better boss?

I imagine everyone can recall a time when the direction seemed clear, when there was real purpose in each day’s work and when the goal seemed authentic and inspiring. Here are five hard truths behind becoming a better boss.

Want To Be A Better Boss? Ask Yourself These 5 Questions

1. Is Your Goal Clear Enough?

Knowing where we’re headed makes the hard times easier to bear. The best leaders are able to create a clear and compelling picture of some future (better) place or time. They work hard to make time to discuss this future, listening to responses and incorporating them into a constantly evolving view of that better future. They take time to work through with their people how they can each contribute to the journey ahead.

2. Are You Listening?

To keep the dream alive, great bosses constantly look for feedback from as many sources as they can find. This helps to keep the course ahead clear and maintains consistency.  It also builds momentum, fuelling the effort needed by demonstrating the value of everyone’s contribution. Feeling appreciated by the boss builds commitment like nothing else will.

3. How Can You Do Better?

A great boss knows her own self-development is never done. Better bosses are appropriately self-critical and take steps to ensure they continue to improve their own skill and competency. This is a hallmark of the better boss. There’s also big value is demonstrating personal humility – openly –  so it encourages others to do the same.

4. Are You Micro-Managing?

The greatest incentive you can offer is to show your trust in the team around you. There are many ways of keeping in touch with progress that don’t weigh everyone down with the idea that you’re actually marking their homework. A better boss will encourage their team to work through what the challenge means for them and will signal high both expectations and trust in the team together.

5. Are You Looking Out Of The Window?

Jim Collins said it in Good to Great.

Better bosses look out of the window to attribute success to everyone but themselves. They only look in the mirror when failure emerges. Show your appreciation for what you want to see and you will get more of it. To be a better boss, make sure that your praise and positive feedback is specific and is tailored to both individuals and the team.

If you like visuals, here’s a neat infographic from Headway Capital to cut out and keep!

Question: Who’s the best boss you’ve worked for and why? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Courtesy of: Headway Capital

How A Haven of Trees Healed Broken Minds

Hafan y Coed

haven of trees

A Haven of Trees

I’m in the final days in my current job and inevitably it’s a time of reflection. One of the more memorable moments was when we were finally able to move our inpatient mental health facility into brand new accommodation. whitchurch_hospitalIt has been a long journey. From an old red brick Victorian ‘asylum’ to a modern and beautifully realised environment. It is called Hafan y Coed or Haven of Trees and is located in the middle of one of our general  hospital sites.

Tanveer Naseer has recently written about the difference between influence and authority. This article prompted me to think about how the design for our new facility was achieved. A mental health nurse, Simone was asked if she could help by the management team. So she began what turned into several years work. She began by slowly building a network of trusted current and former service users. Together with carers, family members and staff, they created a vision for a new kind of inpatient facility.

Hafan y Coed

They agreed it would be called Hafan y Coed. This is Welsh for Haven of Trees which they chose because of the healing quality of nature. Inside the building, which is full of natural light, every detail has been thought about. From the door handles to the discrete high-tech equipment which enables patients to be kept safe without compromising their dignity.

What an achievement this beautiful building is and it will remain as a lasting tribute to Simone and her team of passionate and engaged service users and staff.

The same result could not have achieved by designers alone. The building has a beating heart and the great care with which every last detail has been thought about shows what can be achieved by facilitating the best kinds of conversations. These are based on mutual respect, a shared ideal and the humility to listen to one another. The end product is a triumph.

Healing is More Than Treatment

I’ve met staff who worked for their whole careers in the old, poor quality accommodation, doing their best to help service users recover in less than ideal circumstances. Now they are able to achieve so much more. The atmosphere and climate have changed entirely. They know that healing and recovery is much more than just treatment.

However they are equally quick to say that a service is not about the building. It’s about the people in it, the service user, their families, the carers and the staff themselves.

They are right of course but it’s also clear that the way this building was made achieved something very powerful. Talking with Simone and listening to how she approached this challenge has taught me some important lessons.

  1. Influence can be a much more powerful force than authority.
  2. Better outcomes are secured by widening participation.
  3. Engagement is summative – it builds up step by step.
  4. You need time and patience to build the trust this way of working requires.
  5. Building quality that lasts comes from paying attention to the details that only users will know and understand.

Question: What’s your experience? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Top Five Leadership Blogs For You To Read This November

My Current Favourite Leadership Blogs

top five leadership blogs

Top Five Leadership Blogs

I’m a curious person, always have been. This means I spend a lot of my free time reading and learning about new ways of looking at the world. I find this is a way of continually topping up my enthusiasm for what I do at work and for life in general. I thought I’d share my top five leadership blogs – ones that I think are genuinely focussed on the things I care about and which add something new or thought provoking each item they’re published.

1. Tanveer Naseer

Tanveer’s blog is one that I’m enjoying a lot. He blogs about leadership of course but has a particularly engaging writing style and his topics overlap with my own interests. You can get a good feel for what he writes about by looking at these recent posts:

Why Expressing Gratitude Through Our Leadership Matters

Do Your Organization’s Values Reflect What It Stands For?

Is Your Leadership Based On Influence Or Authority?

Tanveer Naseem’s Blog


2. OCAI online

OCAI online is the company which runs The Organisational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI).  It is a validated research method to assess organisational culture. You can read more about this here. All very well and good, but why include the blog in this list? Answer: because Marcella Bremer writes really interesting and thought provoking pieces with a focus on values, positive cultures and organisational change. Here are some of her recent posts:

Positive Leadership: Why it’s crucial for Organizational Change

Organizational Change: what are 4 Strategies to Change?

Organizational Culture Case: New Behaviors and How to Change

Macella Bremer’s Blog


3. Leading With Trust 

This is a great blog with a title that gets me off to a good start – leading with trust. Is there any other way to do it? Randy Conley is the man behind this blog and writes new pieces regularly. What I like most about his blog is that it is centred around trust and how that can be developed and maintained. Here are some sample posts:

Halloween News Alert! 4 Warning Signs Your Boss is a Zombie

5 Stages of Distrust and How it Destroys Your Relationships

Five Ways to Manage Conflict Before It Manages You

Randy Conley’s Blog


4. The Leadership Hub

This is a blog which has a long track record of great content and being based in the UK might feel more “like it” for a UK reader. Phil Dourado is the author and he writes thoughtful and well researched pieces on general leadership topics. Here’s some examples:

What Leaders Fear…And How to Overcome It

Why Good Leaders Procrastinate (The Zeigarnik Effect)

Quiz: 4 Types of Leader. Which are You?

Phil Dourado’s Blog


5. Brain Leaders And Learners

I’m interested in what the latest neuroscience is teaching us about how we think and behave. I like the idea that our brains are in fact “plastic” –  which means they can continue to make new connections and that therefore curiosity really can make us more intelligent. This blog is written by Dr Ellen Weber, who is a driving force behind MITA. That’s a leadership approach which “facilitates proven brain based strategies to raise motivation and achievement for innovative growth. Leaders and learners use parts of the brain never before used, to achieve innovation never before achieved“. I’ll vote for that – it’s worth a read. Here’s some typical posts:

Ode to Brainpower in Civil Discourse

Thank Somebody To Amp Up Mental Wellness!

What’s Critical about Thinking?

Ellen Weber’s Blog

These are my top five leadership blogs for November – all of them worth a look and usually with content that will make you stop and think.


Question: What are your favourite blogs? You can leave a comment by clicking here.



What Happy People Know About Happiness and Success

The Power of Positive Psychology

Happiness and Success

Happiness and success – it’s the dream combination and many people assume happiness is a product of our success. If I work really hard, I’ll be able to get the job done and then I’ll be happy. In other words, we are happy when something we want to happen (success) occurs. However the field of positive psychology and new discoveries in neuroscience are challenging this causal relationship. It seems that happy people are far more likely to be successful which means the relationship between happiness and success is turned on its head. To the neuroscientists and psychologists, happiness drives success, not the other way round.

You might have read that the GMC – the body which regulates the medical profession in the UK – has just issued a warning about the risk to patients caused by doctors’ low morale. Unhappy doctors creating risks for patients? Sounds like a problem.

Give the Doc A Sweet

In a famous experiment, three groups of doctors are asked, under time pressure, to review complex paper-based case histories. Each doctor is asked to establish a likely diagnosis but avoid anchoring or fixing on a conclusion prematurely. One group performs substantially better than the others and the difference between the groups is that the better performing doctors are positively primed before they start. Remarkably, this positive priming is achieved by giving them…a free sweet. Even this tiny priming has a huge effect. These doctors arrived at the right diagnosis 20% more quickly and with about two and a half times less anchoring. Oh, and for the record, they’re not allowed to eat the sweets because raised blood glucose levels might pollute the test result.

Don’t we all want our doctors to perform at their best? If a free sweet sets doctors up for success what does that tell us about the wider impact a more positive culture can have?

happiness and success

April Strategy

Recently Tim Keogh and colleagues from April Strategy spent some time with us because we needed some help to understand how to make our own organisational culture more positive. April’s strap line by the way  is High Performance. Happy People which is a big clue about how they work. Tim works a lot with healthcare organisations and he opens each sessions he runs by delivering his personal mission statement.

Culture Affects Outcomes

  1.  A 5% increase in staff self reported wellbeing leads to a 3.3% drop in hospital mortality.
  2. Hospitals with higher engagement have:
    • Lower hospital acquired infections
    • Make significantly fewer mistakes
    • Deliver better outcomes
  3. In the most successful teams people get five times more appreciative comments than critical comments.
  4. Successful teams use 3 times more positive words than negative words.

There’s lots of evidence which points in one direction which is that staff wellbeing in health care is strongly associated with better health outcomes for patients.

As the Lancet reports:

It isn’t the a lack of money or a failure to innovate that the Lancet says is the biggest barrier to progress. It’s culture, or how we behave with one another and because we can all choose our behaviours we can also decide which behaviours we want to see, and which we’d like to see less of.

Creating A Positive Climate Pays Off

The conclusion is clear. To drive better outcomes we must pay attention to improving staff wellbeing or happiness. Doing this will cost millions right? Obviously – you can see how costly it is to thank and show appreciation to the people we work with. When we see good work being done is it really expensive or complex to notice it, then feedback what you’ve seen?

Positive feedback is very powerful because research informs us that teams experiencing three times more positive feedback than critical perform far better than teams which don’t.

Surely this is something leaders everywhere can commit to?

To create a more positive climate in your organisation why not speak to April because I think their work is really impressive. I strongly recommend you see what they can do for you.

Interested? Then have a look at the Happiness Advantage a book by Shawn Achor because he does a great job of summarising the evidence for positive psychology and you can read about what he says here.

Question: Do you work in a positive or negative organisation? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

april strategy

What it takes to be a great leader

The world is full of leadership programs, but the best way to learn how to lead might be right under your nose.

Sourced through from:

Here are three great questions to bump us out of our comfort zone. 1. Who are you spending your time with, where are you travelling and what are you talking about. 2. How diverse is your network? 3. Can you let go of what has worked in the past? 


These three questions can provide a roadmap to becoming a better leader. 

Why So Many Smart People Aren’t Happy

It’s a paradox: Shouldn’t the most accomplished be well equipped to make choices that maximize life satisfaction?

Sourced through from:

Does success equate with happiness? It seems that how we frame what we do can have a poweful impact on our overall sense of worth and happiness. What are the yardsticks you use to judge career success – and are they one’s which reflect what matters to you? Here are some wise thoughts on how to guide your own thinking about success. It might help make you feel happier too.

10 Undeniable Qualities of an Inspirational Leader

I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people. M.K. Gandhi You’ve heard of the age-old adage “Be a shining light”… Something that is pretty obvi…

Sourced through from:

Do you have a leadership hero? What makes people the kind of leader that inspires those around them? Here are ten prompts that you might find useful when thinking about your own leadership situation.

Are You Lying to Yourself About Your Leadership? – Lolly Daskal | Leadership

We all try to think well of ourselves, but there are lies we can tell ourselves that do harm to ourselves. Maybe we fear being vulnerable, but we end up

Sourced through from:

Our mind works in some interesting ways. There are many kinds of bias that we would all do well to be mindful of – many of which we are unaware of. See if this list triggers any thoughts about your own.