Worst Words to Hear


What are the worst words you can hear in business?

Let’s face it, ALL of us are in sales.  Everyone….no matter what your position is at any company.  Maybe not in the traditional realm, but everyone is selling something.  Surely, the person that leaves the office or their home each day with samples and an order pad is in sales.  But even if you have a job filing paperwork or answering the phones, you have to sell yourself every day.  You have to convince your customer, boss, and colleagues that you are adding value to the company by keeping up on your workload and by being a good team player consistent with the corporate culture.

Additionally, everyone is on commission.  Don’t kid yourself if you have a salary.  If your company doesn’t make money, or if your company’s efforts don’t produce enough cash flow, you will be gone.  This is even true for the non-profit industries.

“Nothing happens until something is sold.”

Since sales are the lifeblood of any organization, what are the worst words to hear in the sales?

Here they are….

“I didn’t know you sold that!”

Your customers know that you sell (insert your main product), but whose fault is it if they go to your competitor to buy other things that your company offers?  It’s your fault!

It is your responsibility to let people/organizations know what you can do for them.  If you truly have a competitive advantage over your competition, then let it be known.  If you don’t have a competitive advantage, then get out of the way and let those that do have that market share.

If you believe in what you offer, and if you believe that your competitive advantage benefits the buyer, then don’t be satisfied with part time customers.  I’ve heard sales people say “I don’t want to rock the boat,” or “I don’t want to be too aggressive.”  That’s nonsense.  By letting your customer purchase from a competitor that provides less value or a higher price, you are doing your customer a disservice.  

It all boils down to your own belief in your individual and company value proposition.

Amazing Service



As a survivor of the October 2017 firestorm, I have a new perspective on customer service. Over the years I’ve read books and listened to some great speakers on the subject. I have a new perspective – empowerment.

My wife and I were renters in a nice area of Northeast Santa Rosa. After the fire consumed our entire neighborhood, belongings, and family heirlooms, we were forced to find a new rental and start over from scratch. We quickly learned to abandon our ego and ask stores if they offered fire victim discounts.

We quickly discovered a deeper truth of customer service. Here are two true stories….

There is a local deli near my office. When my wife and I went in there, the manager of the store motioned to the cashier that there would be no charge for our lunches. We ate there a few times over the next few weeks. Each time, the manager would take care of our bill. We didn’t ask, he just overheard us talking the first time we came in to eat in the first days after the fire.

The owner of the deli hired good people, and trained them to do the right thing – take care of the customer.

Next story…

My wife and I were wine club members of two of our favorite wineries. We lost our little stash of wine from each recent wine club shipment. So, I called the first winery. I told the manager about our loss and asked if they were doing anything for wine club members to help us out with our loss. He told me that he was allowed to give me a 30% discount. I was already getting a 25% discount from my wine club membership. I said “thank you” and never went in to use it.

I called the second winery and asked the same question. The tasting room employee told me to just come to winery and they would take care of us. So, we went the following weekend.  The owner of the winery came out and greeted us. He was aware of our story. He personally filled out an order form of what he thought we would enjoy. He set aside two assorted cases of wine that was hand selected by him. He did not charge us a penny, but insisted that we enjoy his wines as part of our recovery.

The next day I called and cancelled the membership to the first winery. 

True customer service is about empowerment. Treating customers as you would want to be treated is the hallmark of amazing customer service. Business owners that get it create a culture where the people interacting with the customer have the confidence to do the right thing. They don’t have to get approval. They don’t have to check the policy manual. They are simply empowered.

Forget about the nice words written in your policy manual or on your lobby wall about how important your customers are to your company. Are your employees empowered to make a decision to take care of your customers?

Our Carrier of the Month – NEXTIVA – truly provides AMAZING SERVICE. Check out their video below.

Contact Top Speed Data today to see how you can get AMAZING SERVICE from your phone company!!!

Cyber Security- Protection or Detection

Cyber Security .jpg

Cyber Security - Protection or Detection

Cybercrime is growing for the same reason online services have become so popular with consumers and business alike – ever more accessible technology.  Hacking is easier than ever thanks to the ever growing number of off the shelf attack software.    With access to the dark web, three guys in a room halfway around the world can cripple computers in hundreds of countries.

It has become abundantly clear that no network is completely safe.  Where once companies thought they could defend themselves against an onslaught, they’re now realizing that resistance is less important than having a plan in place to detect and neutralize intruders when they strike.  It’s no longer good enough to try to keep them out.  Network monitoring and detection services are increasingly a vital component of business survival.

In one survey, 66% of security and IT professionals replied that they weren’t confident that their organization could recover from an attack.  I believe that number is probably on the low side.  Since the majority of cyber attacks are allowed in from friendly fire (employees emails, mobile phones, USB sticks), it only underscores the need for organizations to find out how professional and affordable network monitoring can be a part of their security strategy.

Tape vs. Disk vs. Cloud: A Comparison of Data Backup Options


November 20, 2017 / Evolve IP 

Business continuity plans are a must in today’s environment, where even a few hours of downtime could be very costly in lost revenue. Data backup procedures are a critical part of these business continuity plans. But as the menu of backup options increases with the introduction of new technologies it can be difficult to pick criteria around which to base your data backup decisions.

Whether you are looking to replace aging infrastructure, have suffered from faulty or incomplete backups, or are just planning for the future, here is a comparison of the three most common options—tape, disk and cloud backup—along with criteria of price, labor, efficiency, and longevity.

Tape-based backup
Tape was the primary method for data backup beginning in the 1960s and 1970s. Since it has been around so long, it has evolved and grown with businesses for more than four decades. A decision to go with (or stick with) tape-based backup, therefore, means few, if any, infrastructure improvements are necessary assuming your company has previously used this method.

A lack of infrastructure improvements is one area from which cost savings are derived. The other is the cost of the tapes themselves. Tapes are generally a cheap alternative to other storage methods, though this also depends on the amount and type of data your organization will regularly need to back up.

Tapes also enable the opportunity for multi-site data storage. As with any business continuity plan, it is a good idea to ensure multi-site data redundancy so that a catastrophe in one location does not run the risk of wiping out mission-critical data. However, this method of multi-site tape storage can be inefficient and costly once you factor in expenditures for secure tape transit and storage in data centers or other external facilities.

Tapes also suffer from some of the expected shortcomings of older technologies. Reading from and writing to tapes takes longer than other backup methods. There is a higher chance of data corruption or problems reading data from tapes than, say, disk-based backup. Further, data restoration from tapes needs to be completed in the correct sequence, just as if you were going through playlists in a certain sequence on an audio tape. Needless to say, that sequence necessity can complicate backup and restoration processes.

Though tapes have indeed been around the longest, they are also subject to change. Backup tapes come in many shapes and sizes—literally—so you may also encounter some unforeseen infrastructure costs to support the physical media.

Disk-based backup
Generally speaking, disk-based backup is significantly quicker and more reliable for data restoration than tape-based backup. Instead of writing from disk (such as your hard drives or servers) to a tape, a disk-to-disk backup is simply a more efficient method of data transfer.

Similarly, restoration from disk is a relatively efficient process. You’ll avoid the hassles of retrieving, sequencing and then replicating tapes one by one. Disk-based backup is thus a quicker restoration method.

Perhaps the biggest drawback is that disk-based backups still reside in your on-site data location. For multi-location data redundancy, you would need to use a third-party provider for off-site backup, or a replication of the on-site disk. If you opt to circumvent the need for an off-site provider, it can become expensive to continue buying disk space, not to mention the extra process of doing it yourself.

Of course, you could also take your disk replicas and back them up to tape. This is a hybrid of a tape and disk-based backup and is an alternative to paying high prices for disk space. Those costs could still add up, though, in the extra labor and infrastructure costs associated with maintaining the tape-based backup along with disks.

Cloud-based (online) backup
Cloud-based or online backup refers to off-site backup to a third party service provider (or your own cloud infrastructure) via cloud enablement technologies and/or on-site appliances.

Per gig, you can generally store data with greater cost efficiency in a cloud, which eliminates the need to buy and refresh tapes or disks. Online backup is also a less labor-intensive process, as replication is handled as a managed service. This eliminates the need to spend hours each week physically managing backups or securing and transporting tapes.

Cloud-based backup inherently includes multi-site data redundancy, as well. A local data copy can live in an on-site appliance like the SmartFrame, while that enablement technology also replicates data to your off-site provider or data center. Such appliances and enablement technologies continually run in the background of your IT operations, eliminating some of the headaches of manual IT processes. Administrators can also provision VMs on such appliances, simultaneously using the appliance to back up the VMs off-site.

Of course, you’ll need the appropriate bandwidth to support the off-site replication of changes in your data. Depending on your current capabilities, it may mean you need to replicate less data or, more realistically, spend money on network optimization. Additionally, there will be some time and effort as you transition to a new cloud deployment, though this will vary depending on the amount of data you’re looking to transition to the cloud. Online backup is, then, a flexible backup option since you may choose to move only some of your more critical data to the cloud.

Since it is a newer technology, some perceived security concerns linger around the cloud. Many wonder whether off-site data backup will open their data streams to breaches from a third party or some unintended mingling of data with other customers residing in a given data center. However, newer cloud infrastructures are built securely and can actually avoid many of the potential pitfalls associated with, for example, transporting and storing tapes or disks in colocation facilities.

How to make your decision
Every backup model will have its benefits and drawbacks—it is indicative of the imperfect nature of technology that we are continually making progress in speed, efficiency and security. As you make decisions regarding your company’s backup methods, take a close look at:

  • The amount of data that is regularly updated in your organization
  • Your current bandwidth capabilities
  • Your current backup-related costs and overall IT budget
  • Hardware considerations, including your current infrastructure and any necessary upgrades
  • The number of locations from which you’ll need to back up and transport any backup tools
  • Your long-term IT strategy and the potential longevity of various backup methods
  • Your internal resources, both in terms of time and labor, and if those resources are sufficient to manage do-it-yourself projects or would benefit from managed services

You should also consider timing. If your infrastructure is in good shape and your backup processes are sustainable, you can probably hold off on pursuing immediate changes to your backup architecture. But if your company is looking at a necessary update to back up infrastructure, a transfer of data centers, or general company expansions or acquisitions, it will be worthwhile to reconsider your business continuity plans and how each backup option might serve your organization’s future needs.

An Angel in the Firestorm


An Angel in the Firestorm

My wife and I were abruptly woken up at 1:20 AM on Monday, October 9th by a lady driving down the street screaming and honking “Get Out Now!! There is a fire behind your house.” That lady is our angel – she literally saved our lives, as well as the lives of our neighbors.  She wasn’t even from our neighborhood.  We didn’t know her. But her consistent honking and screaming woke up our entire neighborhood.  Her house was burning nearby, but she took her time to drive up and down the streets repeatedly.

We returned the next morning to find that literally everything we owned, and the entire neighborhood was destroyed by the fire.  In fact, most of Santa Rosa as I knew it had been destroyed.  After the first few days of outrunning the still burning fires and dense smoke, we found temporary housing.  Then we posted on Facebook to see if we were connected to anyone that knew her name.  Eventually we were able to find her name and we gave her a call the following week.

We told her our story.  We thanked her for saving our life.  There were many tears shed on that 30 minute phone call.She told us that even though she knew her house was gone, she felt that she owed it to our neighborhood to let people know.  She had only lived in Santa Rosa a short while, but she said that she has never felt a stronger sense of community.   Her exact words were “This community has been so great that I felt obligated to do it.  It was my duty….actually my privilege.”

What is your duty?

This lady did not have a duty to drive up and down our streets, but she knew the need.  It was her privilege to go beyond just taking care of herself.

Business application:  

Sometimes we get so busy at work, that we just put our head down and rapidly go through our “to do” list.   And then “IT” happens…. The phone rings and it is a customer with a problem. Customers are people. They are not interruptions.  They are people with real needs and requests.  If you cash a paycheck, it is because your company has customers.  It is a privilege to have a customer call with a request.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all could take just a moment longer and put ourselves in someone else’s shoes?  I bet we would spend less time reading the policy manual to find reasons why we “can’t,” do something – and we would take a little more time and try to figure out how to make it happen.

When a customer calls with a problem, it may be your duty (job description) to take of them.  But it also may be your privilege!

To find out more about Top Speed Data Communications, contact me at Steve@TopSpeedData.com 

Security Is Complicated


So far in 2017, 67% of organizations reported an increase in security incidents. 57% said the rise of incidents is due to more attacks, and 73% believe the attacks could have been better identified or prevented.  Over-complication of security can be an issue.  65% of organizations use anywhere from 6, to more than 50 different security products.  Sometimes with the false hope that layers upon layers of security will keep them safe.

26% of security professionals say they operate in reactive mode with ad hoc approaches to security operations and response.  Many firms that have multiple security products also suffer from budgets issues, system compatibility and a lack of skills.

  • 44% of security alerts are not investigated
  • 54% of legitimate alerts are not remediated.

Obstacles for business organizations:

  • Budget: 35%
  • Compatibility Issues: 28%
  • Lack of trained personnel: 25%
  • Certification requirements: 25%                                                                                        

Traditional concerns remain, while new threats continue to grow:

  • Large scale industrial IoT hacks will increase dramatically in 2018.
  • Ransomware attacks are up 250% in the first half of 2017 at 218,625 incidents compared with 61,832 in all of 2016.
  • Adware infected 75% of organizations.
  • 65% of email is spam, 8% of spam is malicious.

In 61% of organizations, 30% of their systems were impacted during a security breach.  These systems were down from 1 to 8 hours for 65% of those organizations.  The next 12-18 months will be a critical time for organizations to fill their security holes or risk becoming a victim of cybercrime that is likely to cause significant damage to the profitability of their company.  Businesses need to start thinking about protecting their digital assets even more securely than they protect their physical assets.  The time is now to realize that the lock on their front door is no longer their most important security feature.

Actions to Take in Response to WannaCry Malware...

Since the perpetrators of the “WannaCry” cyberattack have not yet been caught, experts warn that there could be a second wave coming. To protect your systems, here are some immediate actions to take:

1. Install all Microsoft security patches. 
For those of you who rely on employees to update their own systems, this would be a good time to verify compliance. This malware (or any other malware for that matter) can sneak into your network as soon as one of these infected systems connects. Once there, it can spread to other unprotected systems and devices.

2. Backup critical data to an unconnected device. 
This ensures that even if your systems are unresponsive, you will have data to reload once the problem is addressed. However, it’s important that you disconnect your backups from the network to prevent the spread of the malware to your backup systems.

3. Deploy antimalware and malware signatures associated with this threat. 
These can be found on the Department of Homeland Security website. TierPoint is available to help our clients if needed.

4. Refresh your counter-phishing policies and training. 
The current speculation is that the malware was introduced via phishing emails. If there is a second wave, it will most likely take the same route. Make sure all employees are trained to recognize suspicious emails, know how to (not) respond to them, and have a method for reporting them to your security administrators.

5. Create a ransomware response plan.
If you are hit with a ransomware attack and are unprepared, there are a number of immediate decisions you will need to make including whether or not to pay the ransom (most experts say no), how to interact with law enforcement, and what information to release to the public. We highly recommend working with a law firm experienced in creating such plans to ensure all your bases are covered.

Republished from an article 5/17/17 by Paul Mazzucco, Chief Security Officer who is responsible for all TierPoint corporate security standards.

To find out more about increasing your network security, contact me at Steve@TopSpeedData.com – or visit us at our NEW WEBSITE – www.TopSpeedData.com