Do your passwords put you at risk?

SplashData's fifth annual "Worst Passwords List" report shows people continue to be at risk.  “123456” and “password” again top the list!   “Football” is more popular then “Baseball” and “Dragon” beats “Monkey”.  New, common passwords in 2015 included “welcome”, “princess”, and “starwars”.  “12345678” and “123456789” are both high on the list but not necessarily more secure than the top worst password of “123456” as they are based on the same simple pattern.  Makes you wonder about password choices! So what should you do?  Some simple recommendations from SplashData and others include using a minimum of 8 characters and make sure you mix letters, numbers, and special characters.  Don’t use common words or phrases, even if spelled backwards, and do not use the same password everywhere. If discovered once you are at risk everywhere else it’s used.  Don’t share your passwords, don’t save them to your browser.  Even today it’s still worth repeating those basics.  Finally, consider using a password manager which can save and generate secure passwords for you.

How secure are your passwords?

Do all companies need to differentiate?

In  this post from Gartner, Hank Barnes makes an interesting case.  Do you need to differentiate from your competition?  He contends that in some cases that’s not at all necessary.  Particularly for leading, established vendors.  Those vendors can be ‘good enough’.   He contends if products are ‘good enough’ differences don’t matter and customers will embrace known leaders.  He describes this as neutralizing vs. differentiation.  Do you agree?  The post, and some of the comments, discuss the implications this has for innovation.  Interesting read.

September: National Preparedness Month

During September, National Preparedness Month, we all need to take action to ready ourselves for whatever the future may bring.  Whether natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes or other situations, disaster can hit at any time.  This is a perfect month to  take proactive steps to prepare which could include signing up for local alerts, assembling supplies, checking insurance coverage, planning for emergency communications, reviewing the security of your data, or even conducting drills.  September 30 is America's PrepareAthon!, a day for action planning for emergencies.  If you have more to do to ensure a robust emergency plan take steps on the 30th. and are just two of the many sites full of helpful resources and ideas. Earthquakes are the natural disaster we prepare for.  10:20 am on Oct 20 is the Great ShakeOut.  Visit if you are in an earthquake prone area to learn more about the event and related resources.

Pokémon Go has benefits for us

Pokeman Go
Pokeman Go

You’ve probably heard of it.  Pokémon Go is all the rage.  For those of you not familiar with it, the game allows players to interact with virtual Pokémon as if they are in the real environment. When you find one, the game opens up your phone's camera and you flick a Poké Ball toward the creature to capture it. The game has added billions, yes billions, of dollars to Nintendo’s valuation. It’s not without controversy.  Intent on the game, people have fallen or walked into things.  There has been criticism of the use of certain graveyards and memorials as part of the game, and even reports of crime as people were lured with the thought of Pokémon and then robbed.

For us it has been beneficial.  The game gets people up and walking and if you know Referential you know we value health and encourage exercise.  The part of our team that usually walks the least is now up and about at lunch and breaks.  Not only are they getting steps, they are having fun together.  And those of us who don’t play are enjoying it.  We’re learning the lingo and watching the friendly competition as folks move through the stages.  Who knew a game would have such impact on health and camaraderie!

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day, a global event that celebrates women and recognizes their accomplishments in the political, social, economic, and cultural spheres, while also advocating for increased women’s rights and gender equality. I’m proud of Referential’s female staff members, this year I’d like to highlight:

  • Kristy Ward, COO, works tirelessly to ensure that our company runs smoothly, efficiently and delivers optimal impact for our clients.
  • Lynn Watts, Senior Reference Manager, has been with us for 20+ years and continues to ‘go the extra mile’ day in day out to ensure that everyone has the best experience.
  • Regina Dawkins, Reference Manager, is devoted to customer satisfaction and puts in a tremendous effort to train our newer members of staff to meet and exceed our standards of delivery.
  • Alexandra Zaniewski, Communications Specialist, juggles multiple different customer communities to ensure customers receive the latest information from our clients and get highlighted for their acts of advocacy.
  • Diana Mueller, Reference Manager, forges ahead with engaging customers in the DACH region by connecting with them in German; her success stems from her ability to align with them and having a clear understanding of the culture.

I appreciate our diversity and celebrate having these ladies in our company. Thank you!

We're Sponsoring the Summit on Customer Engagement

We’re again sponsoring the Summit on Customer Engagement.  The event is back at the Sofitel Hotel in Redwood City, California.   We’ll see you February 25-26, 2014! The event is for everyone active in customer reference and advocacy.  If you’re new to the field you’ll have access to experts through formal presentations and informal discussion sessions.  Even the experts will learn something new.   The workshops often provide tools and forms that you can put to use right away.  The summit also provides perspectives from experts in related fields such as social media, advisory boards and councils, demand generation, and other topics customer reference program managers need to be informed about.  It’s a great opportunity to meet others in the field and share ideas.

We hope to see you there, make sure to stop by our display.  For more information on the event itself see