Email: Training@cp-journal.com

Call: (646) 470-7885

January 24, 2018

Ends, Means and Trust: Designing Your Leadership Strategy

In our Weekly Profile this past week, the most clicked article we shared was “Would Your Squad Leaders Come To Your Funeral?” published on the From the Green Notebook website. Written by Colonel Curt Taylor, a former commander of the Army’s 1st Striker Brigade, we shared this article because it provides what we think is a clear picture of success for leaders. Compared to other, more tangible skills that we often endeavor to develop, leadership can be something that people struggle to articulate their goals for, making it hard to measure progress along the way. Grasping the essence of positive leadership in a way that is both concise and that resonates with people is challenging, yet that’s what this article does.

But for new officers and NCOs in the military looking to make their mark on the unit they want to lead, defining the goal in this way of having your squad leaders come to your funeral is only the first step. Success will come from how those new leaders create and execute their strategy to achieve that standard.

The challenge of talking about strategy, particularly when it comes to leadership, is that there is no single right answer about how to lead a team to earn their trust and loyalty. For instance, if you were to define success in military leadership as your squad leaders coming to your funeral, some people might think this will come from

January 19, 2018

Executing is a Commodity: Sizing Up a Situation & the Race to Figure it Out

..

The video above features an all-star line up of General Stanley McCrystal, Chris Fussell and Reid Hoffman. In case you are unfamiliar with any of them, Reid Hoffman is the co-founder of LinkedIn. General McCrystal is the former commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and the former commander of ISAF (NATO’s Afghanistan Security Mission). Chris Fussell is a former officer within the Navy’s DEVGRU/SEAL Team 6, co-authored the book Team of Teams with Stanley McCrystal and the author of One Mission. This hour-long conversation highlights many of the lessons that McCrystal and Fussell learned while transforming a large organization, JSOC, to operate faster than the insurgents they were hunting in Afghanistan and Iraq, which was written about in the book Team of Teams. While the conversation is one that many leaders and managers will find interesting, I’m sharing it because of a specific statement that General McCrystal makes about the importance of increasing the speed of learning for individuals and organizations.

At about the 34:30 mark in the video, General McCrystal explains how the problem in war has historically been that, because you could find the enemy relatively easily (it’s hard to hide tank divisions), the problem was having the ability to hurt them. But that is no longer the case. McCrystal goes on to explain:

The problem wasn’t finding the enemy, it was dealing with them. But that problem has completely changed.

The problem now is that you can

January 15, 2018

Building Confidence in Your Ability to Learn

When preparing for war and for the unknown challenges that protectors and warriors will encounter in the future, a person’s confidence in their training is an essential element of their development. Because confidence is a significant contributor to a person’s belief that they can overcome adversity, improving confidence minimizes the risk of hesitation in the face of threats.

Confidence in the ability to hit a target when they pull the trigger is why infantry Marines and soldiers spend so much time practicing their marksmanship. It is why magazine reload and malfunction drills are done to the point of muscle memory and why people spend countless hours firing from a variety of positions and conditions.

Confidence to act is one of the reasons why first aid training is repeated until each member of a unit is comfortable and competent enough to provide a certain degree of medical care to themselves or others. These drills are done until the person knows they can perform the task in the most time-constrained and stressful situations possible.

These are tasks that require such a high degree of self-confidence that there is nothing about a person’s ability to perform the task left to chance. In an age when our enemies and adversaries can adapt at a breakneck pace to avoid our strengths and attack our weaknesses, we need to develop the same level of confidence and proficiency in our ability to bring our most powerful weapon system, our brain, to the fight. In order to ensure that we are prepared to out-adapt our future adversaries, that in turn means we must ensure that we are confident in our ability to learn.

Building Resilience in Confidence

The purpose of this post is to address some ways that you can develop confidence in your ability to rapidly learn in dynamic, complex and changing situations. But before I can address some of these methods, it is worth noting that there is a difference in self-confidence that has been earned and the perceived self-confidence that is the result of bravado and the mindset that someone can simply “do anything,” even without putting in the work to master it. The difference between earned confidence and shallow bravado is important because it can help determine how resilient or how fragile your confidence is.

Something that is fragile will break when it is exposed to stress, while something that is resilient will stay the same when exposed to stress. To understand this distinction, you could put a pint glass and a plastic cup next to each other on a table that is at least three feet high. Push each of them off the table onto an uncarpeted floor. While the “stressor” of falling off of a table is not what the glass or the cup were designed for, you will see that the plastic cup is resilient (it has stayed the same) while the pint glass is fragile (it is in a hundred pieces on your floor). Confidence in your abilities should be thought of in the same way. The choices you make about how you develop confidence determines whether that confidence breaks or remains steadfast no matter what stressor it is exposed to.

In a future battle or conflict where our adversaries are adapting in unanticipated ways, our skills will

January 5, 2018

Learning How to Learn: The Steps

This article is part of an ongoing series to help subscribers of The CP Journal’s Practice Section pursue mastery in behavioral observation, situational awareness and decision-making.

Being able to learn and adapt more quickly than our adversaries is a key skill as we prepare for war. But do you know how to learn?

It’s a funny question to ask, and I’m willing to bet you’d say yes without much hesitation. You may have graduated from high school or college or obtained an advanced degree that gave you a piece of paper to prove that you know how to learn. If you’re in the military, law enforcement or the security industry, you’ve likely spent countless hours in training to learn what is needed to succeed in your field. You probably have a great number of experiences that allow you to confidently state that you know how to learn and have proven it.

Because it’s usually answered without much thought, I’ve found that asking this question framed in this way isn’t the best way for someone to assess their actual ability to quickly break down and understand new concepts. For self-guided learners who need the ability to objectively determine how quickly they can acquire a new skill the better questions may be:

Can you take any subject in the world and outline the steps that you would need to go through to progress from the point of not knowing anything about it to becoming a true master in the field?

Do you have a defined process and framework that allows you to outline the steps of learning without talking about the subject or topic itself?

Answering these two questions might not come as quickly as they did to the more general, “Do you know how to learn?” Learning isn’t just about reading, going to trainings or finding a mentor. Those are all elements of the development process, but they aren’t the process that you can apply to any subject you may want to learn in the future. Learning how to learn means that you are able to know what information and experiences you are looking for at each step of the learning process in order to become self-reliant in your development. It means that you have a process to learn; a process that you are able to refine, develop and improve upon throughout your life. Not having a process that is broadly applicable and generalized enough to apply to any subject, yet specific enough to identify critical components and steps to improve upon, means that we have a limitation and gap in our armor. It is a limitation that needs be corrected for as we prepare to face our adversaries in the future.

Dissecting the Learning Process

In creating, designing and developing a system of learning that works

December 17, 2017

Combatting the Strengths of Our Adversaries and Learning How to Learn

This article is part of an ongoing series to help subscribers of The CP Journal’s Practice Section pursue mastery in behavioral observation, situational awareness and decision-making.

Following the overwhelming shock and awe campaign that characterized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, America’s enemies and adversaries faced a very simple and straightforward dilemma: give up, adapt or die.

For the Iraqi insurgents the American military was searching for, it didn’t take long to realize that wearing any sort of identification that made it clear they were an enemy of the coalition would have swift and tragic consequences for them. As a result, Iraqi insurgents learned how to blend in with the local population, avoid detection and defeat many of the equipment and technological advantages American troops had over them. After observing where so much of the American military’s strength came from, insurgents learned what was needed to survive, and they adapted. The Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Course, which was created in 2007, was one method to counter the advantages the insurgents had as a result of blending in with civilians and disguising their affiliations, but the question that I often find myself asking is why it took four years for the American military to adapt to this new reality of the situation being faced on the ground. While that’s a question that historians may examine in years to come, the more important question for warriors is to ask is, what can our military do differently in future wars to shorten the time required to learn from our enemy and make the required adaptations to win?

Anticipating Future Wars: What We Know and What We Don’t

It is difficult (if not impossible) to successfully predict the way future wars are going to be fought. While the creative exercise of anticipating the wars to come can be helpful in many ways, the sheer number of variables involved in the specifics of future conflict make any attempts at prediction merely speculation. In Thinking Fast and Slow, Nobel Prize-winning economist and author Daniel Kahneman dedicates numerous chapters to explaining the biases and limitations that prevent people, especially “experts,” from being able to make accurate long-term predications about the future.

Despite the limitations in making predictions, there are still opportunities for warriors to discern some high probability assumptions about the future of conflict. Consider a likely sequence of events that a future war might follow:

1: Both sides of a conflict enter a war with a

December 6, 2017

Reporting for Leadership Teams: The CP Journal Dashboard

Image Description: Snapshot of the dashboard outputs, user information, and course results


In a recent post on The CP Journal Blog, “How to Leverage Our Content for Your Team,” we highlighted how organizations use our online courses as continuing education for their entire teams. In that post, we mentioned the dashboards and reports that we offer to organizations with large teams participating in our online Tactical Analysis Training Program®.  Since then, we’ve received some questions about ways in which organizations can keep track of their team’s progress and course results while training with us. We wanted to go ahead and share how the dashboards and reports are built, what they can include, and the way teams are using them to ensure everyone in the program is improving their skills in behavioral analysis.

The dashboards that we build, customize, and provide for our online clients at The CP Journal are a compilation of course results for each user going through the modules within our training courses. For every team that chooses to train with us that also wants dashboard capabilities, we set up access to a shared database that shows the team user list and their progress through the program.  Some of the content is automatically fed onto the page, and course results are included once people complete the modules within the courses.  The details on each user can be as basic or as detailed as our clients want, and the course results can include results from any or all quizzes and tests embedded in the program. These features make the dashboards highly customizable and easy to understand because we only include the information that each client really wants.

These dashboards were originally created at the request of

December 1, 2017

Defining Success in Your Personal and Professional Development

This article is part of an ongoing series to help subscribers of The CP Journal’s Practice Section pursue mastery in behavioral observation, situational awareness and decision-making.

For self-driven learners, one of the biggest obstacles to making the most out of the time and money you invest in your development is not having a clear picture of what success looks like. When the end goal for your training or education isn’t clearly defined, it can be hard to know what skills need to be developed in order for “success” to be reached. It can be challenging to track your progress. It’s difficult to attain a high level of confidence in what you’ve already learned. From my conversations with students who have gone through our Tactical Analysis course, the problem isn’t in knowing that having a clear goal is helpful, though. It’s in knowing how to put that goal into words.

Opposite Ends of the Spectrum: Thinkers and Doers

One of the reasons why we love working with members of the military, police officers and security professionals so much is because they are some of the few groups of professionals who truly understand the fact that learning a skill is not enough. For them to be successful, they have to be able to put what they learn into practice. They are people with their own skin in the game and who constantly (and willingly) put themselves into situations where there are life and death consequences for failing to solve a problem. For them, proving knowledge by

November 29, 2017

Expanded Learning Opportunities with the New Practice Section

In the four years since we first released the online version of our Tactical Analysis course, our students have continuously told us that they want more opportunities to practice reading behavior. After years of experimenting with different options and months of testing and tweaking, we’re very excited to announce the opening of The CP Journal’s Practice Section within our online Academy.

Learn More About the Practice Section

What It Is:

The Practice Section is an area where members can access exercises to practice reading behavior and develop their abilities to establish baselines and recognize anomalies. Each exercise can be completed in less than 10 minutes, making it easier than ever to practice assessing the four pillars of behavior and our baselining methods.

Why We Built It:

It would be easy to say that we built the Practice Section because our students and customers have been asking for it, but that would only be a part of our reasoning. We built it because, in order for our nation’s protectors (and those looking to ensure their own safety) to become true masters of behavioral analysis, they need more than one book or one training course. Putting our lessons into practice is a key component of pursuing mastery and becoming elite. Creating a training area where protectors can do this from the safety of their home or office and practice for as long or as short a time as they need has been a longtime goal of ours that we’re thrilled to bring to fruition.

Who It Is For:

In designing the Practice Section, we had a specific type of person in mind. The exercises are for people who want to go beyond what we teach in our courses, what they read in Left of Bang: How the Marine Corp’s Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life, or what they learn on our blog. It is for the people who want to drill and develop “soft skills” in the same way they practice other more tangible parts of their profession. It is for the people who want to put in the work to become an elite observer and improve their decision-making.

How You Can Join:

Subscriptions for the Practice Section start at $9.99 per month or $99 per year.

To learn more and view sample exercises:

View the Practice Section

As always, get left of bang and stay there,

Patrick and Jonathan

November 13, 2017

How to Leverage Our Content for Your Team 

Here at The CP Journal, we’re often asked how protectors can leverage our content to make it effective and actionable for teams of people within their organization. More specifically, they are looking at how best to take the education of an individual person and scale it to a larger team and, in some cases, their entire organization. Because of the frequency of this question, we’ve outlined some of the most popular ways here. If you have other ways that you’re scaling our content out to your entire team, please let us know so that we can share that information with the rest of our audience and empower even more people to learn the skills that we teach.

First and foremost, many organizations purchase our online Tactical Analysis Program® for their entire team.  The benefits that our clients see in using our online course for their teams is that they know they can trust that everyone is seeing and hearing the same message, that individual team members can view the content on their own time and re-watch any modules as often as they like, and that leaders can see where there were deficiencies during the training that need reinforcement as an after action review. We offer organizational pricing and dashboards for leadership, making it more cost-effective and easier to get everyone on their teams trained efficiently.  Dashboards are customizable report cards that we share with team leaders to see who has been set up with access and who has completed the program. They also display course results to track how well everyone did on the quizzes and tests throughout the program.

If this is beyond the scope for your team, many organizations make

October 22, 2017

Weekly Profile: Articles about Red Queen Problems, Trust, On-Demand Dog Walking Problems and More. Week of 10-22-17

The Weekly Profile: with the goal of helping to find common ground and innovative solutions by learning from people and perspectives in the military, business, technology, security and more. 

Here are five articles, podcasts or videos we read, watched and listened to this week and wanted to pass along.

1. “ The Red Queen Problem: Innovation In the Defense Department and Intelligence Community.” This War on the Rocks article is written by author and entrepreneur Steve Blank to highlight solutions to many of the problems the government faces when trying to innovate. Beginning with a comparison between the approach to innovation we could use during the Cold War with the threats we face today (and how that impacts innovation), he moves into six problems and solutions that can help move organizations past simply putting the word innovation into their mission statement and then continuing with business as usual.

If you are familiar with lean manufacturing concepts or how it relates to product development, you might notice that his check for “solution/mission fit” is the same as companies searching for “product/market fit” and while at first I thought the author was just trying to relate it to the website’s military audience, after thinking about it, it really does translate the lean concepts from a business setting and into a military/government focus. As one of the major goals for The Weekly Profile is to help our subscribers find common ground between the problem they face in their field and how people have faced similar challenges in other professions, this article was one that had to be included and shared this week. You can read it here.

Follow On Reading: If you enjoyed this article, we recommend that you take a look at the book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, which expands on the innovation cycle that Steve Blank discussed. While there are some aspects of the approach to product development that should be thought through by people working with the government or with first responders – specifically knowing where the consequences for undeveloped ideas lands and whether you will be putting someone’s life at risk – for those looking to bring innovation to the DoD or Intelligence Community, it could prove to be a great resource. You can learn more or pick the book up on Amazon by clicking here.

2. “These 13 Exercises Will Prepare You For Work’s Toughest Situations.” In what she calls “dynamic empathy,” the VP of Content for Nerdwallet (a finance focused website) explains how you can quickly gain an understanding of how a colleague feels so that you can figure out how to act on it in a swiftly changing environment. Using 13 different scenarios that she used to learn the skill, she has created lists of questions that you ask yourself (this is an internal exercise) that can be prepared and thought through ahead of time to ensure you are prepared to consider other people’s motivations in tough situations.

If you are getting ready to give a performance review, take a look at Scenario #1 in the list. When managing conflict and attempting to de-escalate a situation take a look at Scenario #8. If you are building and instituting new processes, consider Scenario #4. Having issues managing up and working with your boss? Consider Scenario #2. If you are an instructor or trainer, look through Scenario #5. Negotiating? Scenario #6. Regardless of your role, there is a high likelihood that one of the 13 scenarios in this article can help you and that is why we recommend you take a look at this article, which you can find here.

3. “Podcast: A Counterintelligence Expert’s Five Rules To Lead and Succeed.” Robin Dreeke, a former Marine Corps Officer and an FBI agent who had a career in doing counter-intelligence work with their behavioral analysis program, talks with Brett McKay about his new book The Code of Trust. We found his interview to be very interesting as he takes a look at some of the techniques that go into validating others and actually building trusting relationships. While mistrust of people, companies, governments and products seems to be pretty rampant today, Dreeke’s approach isn’t about doing anything that gives people a reason to walk all over you, simply trying to be nice to others or dishing out flattery. It is about thinking about situations from the other person’s perspective and being able to address their needs, their concerns and allow them to accomplish their goals, which in turn, also works out for you as well. You can listen to the podcast here.

4. “Crime as Jihad: Developments in the Crime-Terror Nexus In Europe.” This article from The Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point looks at the connections between criminals becoming involved in jihadism using data from Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, England and France and the striking percentage of people who had criminal records before traveling to fight in Iraq or Syria. As the authors to the article point out, it isn’t just the fact that they are criminals that is important, but the reality that their criminality is relevant to their extremism, how they radicalize into violence and how they operate once radicalized.

For those of you who are students of terror and the threat that these individuals and organizations pose, this article takes a look at how the Islamic State has been encouraging “regular” crime. It highlights a few cases of criminals-turned-jihadists and looks at where future research needs to be focused as we consider the fact that of the 580 people sentenced in Europe in 2016 who had ties to terrorism, the average sentence was only five years, which connects the risk level of terrorist attacker with our calendar. You can read the article here.

5. “Wag, The ‘Uber for Dog-Walking,’ Is Drawing Uber-Like Scrutiny.” Here is a bit of a lighter article to end this week on. This Bloomberg Technology article takes a look at Wag, the on-demand dog walking company that is reported to be raising around $100 million dollars in it’s third round of financing. The problem however, is that “every time a pet dies or goes missing, Wag and Rover (a similar company) take a public relations hit,” which is starting to cause concerns for investors. Yes, you read that correctly. A problem that the company is facing is that there is an actual risk of a dog going missing or dying during their walk. Apparently, this has become a big enough problem where the company has stood up “a dedicated team to handle dog rescues.” It has gotten to the point where one former customer (who allegedly turned down $2,500 and a trip to Disney World in compensation for her dog going missing on a walk) received a threatening cease and desist letter from the company after she turned to social media to voice her concerns about the company. You can learn more about the story and read the article here.

Until next week – get left of bang and stay there.​

Patrick and Jonathan

If you’d like to get The Weekly Profile in email form, in your inbox, on Sunday mornings, please subscribe at this link.


 

October 18, 2017

The Weekly Profile: Improving Social Skills, Reactions to Active Shooters, Chess Experts in Finance and More. 10.15.17

The Weekly Profile: with the goal of helping to find common ground and innovative solutions by learning from people and perspectives in the military, business, technology, security and more. 

Here are five articles we read this week and wanted to pass along.

1. “How To Prepare Your Family For An Active Shooter.”This article from The Secure Dad website embraces the same concept of an article we included from Jeff Chudwin about police ambushes a couple of weeks ago: while the goal is always to get left of bang, there could be times when we can’t observe the attacker ahead of time and have to be ready to take action once something begins.  Andy Murphy, the author of the article, has been very supportive of Left of Bang but acknowledges a similar reality to the police ambush article in this write up about how to prepare your family for active shooter events.  In these situations, being right of bang isn’t a result of complacency or being caught in Condition White, but because you never were able to see the assailant ahead of time because you weren’t in the right position. Even though it isn’t ideal, it doesn’t mean you should waste a split second trying to figure out how to react either.

In this particular article, Andy Murphy uses his experience as a sports videographer and his access to stadiums and arenas to help think about the run, hide, fight reactions a person should be ready to execute if they find themselves in a situation with an active killer.  In the run section, he highlights a simple, yet effective way to prepare and rehearse that escape route.  In the hide section, he hits on something often seen in active shooter scenarios where people trying to escape end up in a room without an exit (something that occurred in the Pulse Nightclub attack). And in the fight response section, he reminds us how hard actual fighting is, and how, if you are unprepared or untrained, it isn’t as easy as it looks in the movies.

As you read the article, don’t limit the application of this particular article to stadiums either. It isn’t just that you want to find the vendor areas so that you can escape – but that you want to think about alternative routes you may not normally think about (such as how employees are moving around this arena without being seen). Don’t let domain dependence slow the learning but keep the applications of the article broad in mind as you read through it.  This is one of the top articles this week for a reason and for subscribers looking to keep their families safe; it isn’t one to skim through. To find, read and think about the concepts in this article, you can read it here.

2. ”How To Help An Employee Who Rubs People The Wrong Way.”A large portion of the client work that we do at The CP Journal involves some element of making more informed decisions about people and their safety. But we also spend a good deal of time helping people use the common elements of human behavior in areas outside of a security environment as well – such as how they can be used in conversation.  In this Harvard Business Review article about how to tackle awkward conversations, the author shows how it can cause some interpersonal challenges for managers and leaders who recognize that they need to address the problem of employees who rub others the wrong way and provides a few ways to prepare for the encounter.

As the articles drives to the point that the best way to deal with these situations is through thorough preparation, the four pillars of behavior that we write about on our site and teach in our classes can help you think about how to prepare. From decisions about what behavior you are going to display during the conversation, what type of behavior you are looking for as feedback from the person and how you set the conditions for the conversation using group behavior, the environment and the collective mood, the universal and uncontrollable elements of behavior provide a great compliment to the strategies discussed in this article, which you can find here.

3. “How the CIA Staged Sham Academic Conferences To Thwart Iran’s Nuclear Program.”This ProPublica article is an excerpt of Daniel Golden’s book Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universitiesand takes a look at some of the ways and reasons why intelligence agencies use academic conferences to lure the top minds from a range of scientific disciplines into a position to be recruited. As it can be hard to gain access to Iranian or North Korean scientists in their own country, by sponsoring conferences where they will speak and present research, intelligence agencies create a reason for them to leave the safety of their own borders and create opportunities for conversations that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them.

With an explanation about how shell companies are used to actually host the conference (so that the CIA’s name isn’t plastered all over the place), examples of how it has worked well (recruiting Iranian nuclear scientists to defect) and ways it has gone wrong (assessments of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program), this article offers an interesting look into the world of intelligence collection and recruitment. You can read it here.

4. “Wall Street’s Best Kept Secret Is a 72-Year-Old Russian Chess Expert.”In this Bloomberg Pursuits article, James Tarmy profiles Lev Alburt. Alburt spent the early part of his life as one of the most important Russians for his ability to beat other people at chess. After being disenfranchised by Russian politics, he defected, first to West Germany and then to the U.S. Since then, he has built a business teaching the game out of his New York City apartment to some of the wealthiest and most influential people in business and finance. You can read the article here.

5. “How To Get Started With Physical Security: A Guide For Startups & Small Companies.”With so much conversation about the challenges in security, so many articles about innovative new products and so many sales pitches about what you need to protect your company, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of choices you have to sort through as you seek to protect your company from harm. This article from our friend Ami Toben is written for the small companies who have grown to the point where they need to begin thinking about how to stand up a security function.  One of the biggest reasons why we recommend this article is because it stresses the importance of, and the need to, first understated what you are looking to protect before you begin thinking about how you are going to protect it.  While it often seems like common sense, it is one of the biggest mistakes we (and Ami) see and leads to a great deal of wasted money, time and ineffective security. You can read the article here.

Until next week – get left of bang and stay there.​

Patrick and Jonathan

If you’d like to get The Weekly Profile in email form, in your inbox, on Sunday mornings, please subscribe at this link.


 

October 9, 2017

The Weekly Profile: Social Vs. Asocial Violence, Pilot Licenses, Digital Currency And More. Week Of 10/8/17

In the Weekly Profile that was sent out yesterday, we know that some of the links weren’t working, which we apologize for. In case you encountered that problem, we have updated all of the links, for all of the articles, here.

If you aren’t currently a subscriber, the Weekly Profile is an email that we send out every Sunday and is made up of five articles, podcasts, books or videos that we have either watched or read during the week and felt were worth passing along. The goal for the Weekly Profile is to help those in the military, first responder and security professionals find common ground between the obstacles they are facing each day and how other people, in other fields, have dealt with similar problems.

If you are interested, you can sign up to receive the Weekly Profile in your inbox each Sunday here:

Subscribe


The Weekly Profile: with the goal of helping to find common ground and innovative solutions by learning from people and perspectives in the military, business, technology, security and more. 

Here are five articles we read this week and wanted to pass along.

1. “Secrets In the Sky.” This is a two-part series from the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Division about gaps in the FAA’s processes to protect our country from the sky.  Part 1 of the series takes a look at how easy it is for foreigners to register a plane in the United States through the use of shell companies and trusts, resulting in a town in Texas (a town that only has 2,500 people) that has over 1,000 registered planes, yet not having an airport or a suburban home in Georgia, the address for the mother of a person who runs an aircraft registration company, having over 200 planes registered to her address unknowingly.  While the price to buy a plane has undoubtedly gone up since 1969, the price to register a plane has stayed the same – only costing $5 to register a plane with a United States identification number.  Why do foreigners try to register planes in the US and not provide accurate information about the owner? Because in many countries around the world, planes landing with a US registration number aren’t screened very thoroughly because there is a perception of legitimacy and the perception of regulation, making it an attractive investment for criminals.

Part 2 of the series looks at the lack of oversight for people with a pilots license – resulting in a number of terrorists, convicted drug traffickers and people who have been caught trying to smuggle jet parts into Iran maintaining their pilots license.  Once you have earned your pilot’s license, you have earned that credential for life and people are only removed from the system for crimes and infractions that are self-reported. Because pilot’s licenses don’t have any biometric information on them, or even a photo of the pilot, the licenses lead to a high degree of identify theft because they simply aren’t checked or verified at many airports.

This is one of the longer articles we’ve read this week, but it is worth the time to learn about a portion of our government that we often don’t give too much of a though to.  To read the story about how a federal agency has refused to implement changes mandated by law and by congress for the past 13 years, you can find Part 1 of the series here.

2. “Liberate Your Team With Clearer Processes.”Processes, whether in business, the military or in first responder organizations often come with a negative connotation.  Many will talk about how processes bring more bureaucracy with them, but as this article shows, that doesn’t always have to be the case. Processes can free people up to do their jobs with less oversight when used properly. For organizations looking to improve the way they use processes to empower teams to take action in the absence of explicit guidance, this article has a few recommendations for ways to evaluate what your organization already has in place.  With explanations about why identifying bottlenecks is a good thing, the role of the bigger picture and how processes allow for consistency in decision making, we recommend that you take a look at the article here.

​​​​​​​3. “A Hacker Stole $31M of Ether – How It Happened and What It Means For Ethereum.” Back in July of this year, the world of digital currency experienced the second largest heist in their short history.  What makes this attack unique and interesting isn’t the fact that it was so large, but how much money the hacker could have gotten had another group of “good-hackers” not gotten involved and stole the remaining $150 million of vulnerable money themselves before the criminal could.  Once the breach was identified and the method of attack was determined, the white-hat hackers in Ethereum’s community exploited the same vulnerability in the digital wallets that the thief was using and drained those accounts of $150 million before the thief could get to them (they have since returned the money to the owners).

When hearing about how the attack was stopped some people have asked, “Why did the white-hat hackers have to first steal the money? Why couldn’t they just fix the underlying problem with new code and an update?”

The reason for this is because the blockchain is still pretty young and resembles the software world before we could update our apps and computers automatically. It resembles the time when a company shipped their product every 6 months instead of every few weeks.  As a result, once a smart contract is out there and implemented, it is out there for good and can’t be updated. Hackers (and anyone with access) are able to know how much money is in a contract and have all of the time they want to find a vulnerability that is worth exploiting.  If you are interested in learning more about digital currency and the blockchain, this article is pretty non-developer friendly (you can easily skip over the technical sections and not miss any key points), and provides a great case study worth considering.  Thanks to J.F. for sharing this article with us and you can find it yourself by clicking here.

​​​​​​​4. “Skills vs. Behavior.”  For self-driven learners, the difference between skills and behaviors is an important concept to consider as the distinction is often what can lead to determining your way forward when pursuing mastery in a field. A skill is being able to do something successfully but is limited to doing that one thing and at that one moment in time. Behaviors, on the other hand, are being able to put skills to use and are often exemplified by people who can drop what they are doing, learn something new, and be successful using that new skill.  Behaviors lead to success over the long-term and in a number of different contexts while skills are a bit more limited to short-term success. Even though this article is written in context to businesses and investing, I added it to this email for its application to learning and how it can help you think about what you need to work on to not just master a specific skill that is relevant today, but to practice the behaviors that will allow you to thrive in your career in the future as well (even though we don’t know what that will actually look like). Skills are much easier to track and measure than behaviors, but not everything that is quantifiable is an accurate predictor of success and you can read the article here.

5. “Social vs. Asocial Aggression.” While this article was written for the Art of Manliness website over a month ago, I didn’t get around to reading it until after last weekend’s attack in Las Vegas, but it is certainly one worth considering in light of recent events.  Applying concepts from his book When Violence Is The AnswerTim Larkin describes social aggression as the quasi-violent scenarios that are geared towards asserting some form of social dominance, gaining an advantage or elevating a person’s social status.  That is why so people watch the fight with the bully at school – because they want to see what happens and the new hierarchy that will result from the outcome.  Asocial aggression, on the other hand, has nothing to do with reestablishing the social order but has the goal of wrecking the order.  Because there is nothing being communicated in these situations, people don’t stand and watch, they run, hide or fight. With social aggression, pain and violence are the by-products of the situation, but with asocial violence, death and destruction are its purpose. With a discussion about how to tell the difference between the two forms of violence, how to respond when you encounter it and how you can help the country get left of bang by minimizing the ways social aggression can turn into asocial violence, you can find and read the article here.

Until next week – get left of bang and stay there.​

Patrick and Jonathan
Co-Founders
The CP Journal ​