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If You Can’t Beat ’em, Join ’em…Right?

Actually, that’s not the reason I’m playing Pokémon Go along with a few hundred million of my favorite friends. But, I assume most people would guess that I, a CEO, full-time mom, (slightly) over-40 year old woman is only playing for that reason – if at all.  In the spirit of true confessions, I will admit to playing, being slightly obsessed with it, and having been the one to introduce my 3 sons – ages 10 through 14 – to the gamPokemonGomemee.

First, a look at why I shouldn’t be playing. From what I can see on social media, people my age and above, whether employed outside of the house, or working to raise children, are all enjoying posting derogatory digs at the time-wasting Poke-hunters. Per social media, I should be harnessing my snark and directing it with a sanctimonious air of smugness, reminding others to get a real job, that there are terror attacks happening daily while they uselessly capture Pokémon, and suggesting that I’m way too important for such silliness. Hell, just typing all of that made me feel much more intellectually superior than I do when arguing whether my Centicruel can handle a battle against an Arcanine.

So, how is it that I (a) play, and (b) not-so-secretly-enjoy Pokémon Go?

It’s simple, really. First, the world is too serious and stressful. A little healthy game play, with no “dying”, and in which my success is not dependent upon someone else’s failure? Yes please.

Second, and importantly, we’ve bonded as a work team, and as a family, playing this silly free game.  (Though “bonding time” would quickly flip to “berating time” if my kids start wasting money on poke coins). My employees are in their 20s and actually traded Pokémon cards and watched the show as kids. They know the characters and we laugh together as they try to explain it all.  And, don’t even get me started on how few opportunities there are to enjoy an activity with my teenaged and tween-aged sons. Even sports and games we enjoy together – other than Pokémon Go – require someone to “win” and others to “lose”. In all other sports and games, we are playing against each other.  In Pokémon Go – and yes, here’s where I’ll sound particularly unintelligent – we can all capture the same monster. It’s not a race to get Pikachu first. We can all “catch them all”.

In true form, though I introduced it to my husband and children, the four of them are all way better than I. They are quicker, and have all of the monsters’ skills memorized. They “battle” and win their gyms, while I go down (quickly!) in a blaze of glory. But, after they take over a gym, they invite me to come in it. Okay, so what if I don’t understand that gesture, and if I have to hand over my phone while an eye-rolling 14 year old deposits my Pokémon in our Mystic-controlled gym (go, Team Mystic!). Eye rolls aside, my kids call me at work, “mom, can you take lunch with us and go Poke-hunting?” and have wanted to hang out with me every night? Priceless.

So, judge on. Explain how, if I were not trying to get this elusive Alla Kazam, I could help bring the political parties together, or lend support in the fight against ISIS.  Until then, “Squirtle!”

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The South, Where Millennials And Entitlement Are Blissfully Behind The West Coast

In the South you find that millennials and entitlement lag light years behind their West Coast contemporaries…

On my recent flight from Detroit, I spent my layover with *Britt (name changed to protect the unwitting), a 20-something, hard-working, career sales woman. Britt changed jobs when the management position she was offered fell through. Since her employer had already handed her territory to someone else, she decided to move on. After spending a year helping her family business, Britt reentered the corporate world this past January. Times were good, and Britt found herself with multiple offers. Young age and some business naivety led Britt to her current role, where she was offered $20,000 more in base than the next highest offer in front of her. This, she explained, is why she took a job that was best described as a nightmare.

Britt was on my flight with *Bob, her 60-something colleague who joined Company Evil (this is not a generous face-saving poetic move. I actually didn’t catch the real name) when Britt did. Bob admitted that he took this role despite obvious red flags, because at his age he felt that “any job was a privilege.”, after being laid off from a competitive company.

When I first inserted myself into their discussion (polite language for, “while eavesdropping”), I heard Bob trying to help Britt with simple industry vernacular. Despite having two months with Company Evil already, Bob was providing the only guidance Britt had received to date. That, and the 2-day training from which they were returning was apparently the most she’d been taught to date.

Now, full disclosure: when I first started, eh hem, “adding value” to their discussion, I was irritated that yet another snot-nosed 20-something (when did I get this old?) was bitching about what her company owed her. I pre-judged her for not knowing the industry lingo or having the ability to fake it until she makes it. She only enforced my beliefs when I asked her a few questions and found out that her old company had done months of training. She seemed put off, if not downright huffy, by the lack of formal training Company Evil offered, by comparison.

Work Ethic for millennial entitlement

Admittedly, I was on Team Company (not Company Evil, just Company), and not on Team Britt, when I first asked, “How big was your last company?” “How much training did this company promise you?” “Isn’t it your own reputation at stake if you don’t know things?” “Don’t you have to learn the industry yourself?”  With jetlag, insomnia, and a cocktail fueling me, I was ready to tell off this millennial for the benefit of all pre-millennials everywhere. My Team allegiance slowly shifted when Bob and Britt began telling a fairly united narrative about Company Evil. First off, Britt – and several of her peers – are being paid considerably more than Bob. He humbly admitted to having negotiated poorly, due to desperation. Both had no idea of any specifics of their compensation structure. “We only get paid once a month” they explained. To be clear, they had only been paid once, or maybe twice when I invaded their airport conversation. Neither had been given a paystub or any other document explaining the mystery deposit.

As their story continued, both explained that Britt had been ridiculed and shamed on team sales calls. Again, upon hearing this I had no reason to know whether this was due to her poor performance, or proof of them working for a truly appalling boss. But, they were both in lockstep agreeing that she was told she was not expected to master the (fairly technical) subject matter before six months; yet she was being chastised and made fun of for not knowing technical terminology? Even more alarming, both 60-year old Bob and Millennial Britt indicated that bizarrely their sales goals included “upselling existing clients” yet Company Evil’s CEO refused to provide client data.

All this to say?

Here was my advice to Britt: I advised her to act like a non-millennial; act like a child of the 1990s – who fought his/her way through unjust and shoddy experiences like hers. Act like any of us who genuinely care about succeeding and pride ourselves in a job well done. Figure out the learning lesson and get the hell out of there. Should you give up? Maybe. If the company, industry, and learning opportunity are either non-existent or are outweighed by the negative experience, get out. If you can tell before you even have to list it on your resume? Get out.

Did Britt make a bad decision going to Company Evil? Yes. Yes she did. But, unlike her West Coast contemporaries (blah blah exaggeration blah blah overly generalized, blah blah) she has been genuinely trying to succeed and is more than willing to work hard. She knows her learning style – but perhaps failed to interview her prospective employer to ensure that they provided this type of learning.

Britt can go one of two ways. She can rest on her martyrdom and tell any and all about Company Evil, and all she’s endured. Or, she can do what we did in our 20s and chalk this one up to a bad decision – a learning opportunity – and get out now.

My last piece of advice to any employee — if you do choose to stay put? Time to make peace with that decision, and join Team Company. Badmouthing your own employer is badmouthing your own decision-making. Oh, and don’t make a life altering decision after a long flight or one too many cocktails.


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Experienced Security Consultants Protect Enterprise Data

Companies are eliminating vulnerabilities by contracting Security Analysts and Program Managers to identify outdated security systems. Bringing in a fresh pair of eyes uncovers security threats that have gone unnoticed allowing IT Engineers to implement proper safeguards.

Vivo Blog: Bringing in a fresh pair of eyes uncovers security threats that have gone unnoticed allowing IT Engineers to implement proper safeguards.

The estimated cost of enterprise cyber-attacks from network security weaknesses was a shocking $100 billion in 2013. Just two years later, this cyber-crime “wave” officially escalated to an “epidemic” when cyber criminals started working harder than most companies to identify system weaknesses.

Thousands of companies scrambled to hire security teams to run risk assessments and system updates. Unfortunately, it was too late for many businesses… Costing more than $400 billion in 2015.

Everyone wonders how security hacks can happen to such well established brands such as Target, Bank of America, and Comcast? Cyber criminals aren’t going out of business anytime soon – Hackers are very lucrative and enjoy the challenge.

A prime example of one of the more notorious hacks happened less than a year ago…

The “Impact Team” – After the website was hacked more than 25 gigabytes of company information was released to the public. The data included every user’s personal information (Social Security Number, real names, and home addresses). This website was not chosen by chance. The company’s business model made it more vulnerable than most because it encouraged married people to engage in affairs. The information released publicized scandalous activities by the victims resulting in three known suicides, dozens of divorces, and reported extortion.

The hacker responsible is still a wanted fugitive.


Enterprise Security Consultants

According to a recent report from Juniper Networks, we will see another quadrupling in cyber-crime cost for the next three years. In total, it is about $2.1 trillion by the year 2019. When that much is at stake, you leverage every resource available to keep your security system resilient.

How do you protect the integrity of your company’s intellectual property? Is there a fraud-proof security system or method?

  1. Fresh Security Talent: It’s important to rotate security analysts. Bringing in someone new with a fresh pair of eyes who will notice outdated security systems or possible threats that have gone unnoticed.
  2. Keeping up with Security Trends: Rotating the risk assessment role every one to two years will provide a revolving door of experts from other companies with new ideas and experience looking at things from a different point of view. They bring with them new tools and security trends that other companies are seeing.
  3. Internal Hackers: If you want to know how to stop cyber criminals, one of the most effective methods is to contract one. Hire a hacker to find all the holes in your system, and then fix them.



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Favorite Recruiting Stories

businessman in suit with hands in handcuffsWhen asked for her best story, Marilyn struggled, because so many are good. But, this one surely stood out!

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Context-aware Security – Is it a Buzzword, a Product, or Something Else?

A relatively new concept in the ongoing debate between information security and employee effectiveness is “context-aware security.”  Originating a few years ago as a buzzword for some retailers to socialize in their product offering media and presentations.  Specifically, as tools and technologies defending against Advanced Persistent Threats have become more prevalent.  Lately, it has taken on true substance as these tools have matured.  Unfamiliar with the term ‘context-aware’?  In essence, it is the evolution of policy-based controls to be more situationally aware of an action being performed.   Recognizing a privileged security action is allowed based on variables of situational information such as location, device, time of day, content of data, and so on, with the controls adjusting according the action.  This is a significant step up from actions permitted based on Role Based Access Control (RBAC). But where will automation fit in? Will IT have the bandwidth to do the legwork, and perform constant and real-world, situation-based policy changes necessary to actually implement a fully context-aware, protected, and secure environment? And, how does this differ from the already exhaustive exceptions list most CISO’s are already asked to make work on a daily basis?

Can Context-aware Security Ever Be Fully Automated?

In short, not easily.  By definition, context aware security addresses potential abuse of granted role-based security to dynamic behaviors.  At best, your policy, and the products you implement can only address known, predictable behaviors.  Context aware approaches rely on assumptions. (“We can assume this user will not log in  after hours, based on the usage habits of others who have held his role.”) So, perhaps they address 80% of the users, and allow for X% more productivity?  Until controls can match the level of military efficiency and monitoring of actions, with the appropriate personnel to maintain those controls on a continuous basis, full automation will remain an elusive IT security goal.  This falls back to very basics of IT security prevention where it only takes one new way to compromise a control, followed with a change to close that new exploit.

Is Your Identity Management Policy Ready For Your Company to Really Use a Context-based Approach?

Nod once if this is your company – HR creates user profiles.  Don’t go blaming Active Directory, or your CISO, or even your HR teams. This seemed simpler when initially developed. OK, and yes, I’m over simplifying – HR does not take guesses. Instead, the hiring manager provides semi-extensive profile data, listing each of the roles and rights, all systems, each piece of equipment the new hire shall be granted upon his/her hire. Some companies go a step further, and include this same information gathering for employees who are promoted, demoted, transferred, or who terminate employment. But, is there already another identity review process in place at your company? Do you address how many folks log in from multiple products? Who on each team logs in from home at 10 pm?  When and why Johnny in engineering may need payroll system access? Collecting metrics to help identify patterns can be another rabbit hole to fall down as they only provide the results for known requested elements.  There again shaping a new policy based on what is presently known and factual.  Easily leading to a myopic viewpoint for legitimate exceptions or false positive results for actions.  Or, is that the exception process, and is your system administrator simply giving out access on a case-by-case basis?  Privileged Access Systems (PIIM/PAM) can greatly reduce abuse of power.  Simply from the human aspect alone where Johnny has to ask permission and knows that access is logged and tracked.  However, this isn’t contextual awareness.  It is just another way to skin the known data element protection cat.

Are the Products Ready?

Sort of. Our architects can speak to the countless next-generation firewalls and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS’s) that can handle virtually any policy-based rule.  But, unless your policy is as granular as a true context-aware security approach requires, technology alone will not get you there.  But, context is not a product.

Why is this so Difficult?

In and of itself, the only way we are going to succeed in creating a true contextual security framework, is if we all share information. Simple, right? We’re all willing to share threats, minor or major data breaches, user habits, vulnerabilities, etc., so as to use that data to develop true context-based assumptions and rules, right? And, of course, sharing with the hackers themselves is always a risk.  Sharing context in the security landscape is anomalistic in that it would require a company to expose its vulnerabilities, and further open itself to breaches.

Compare and contrast security to other worlds in which context-based habits have driven multi-billion dollar industries. Where would we be without Facebook, Google, Caesars and Amazon (among obvious countless others) telling other retailers and casinos the behaviors each can predict. The productization of this information has long since been a valuable commodity, in and of itself.  While any given vertical market can be generally containerized to provide suggested controls such as PCI, HIPAA, etc with a framework to match, it doesn’t provide the appropriate “context” to the details and idiosyncrasies of how a given company functions on-the-wire.

So, how can we use this same approach to prevent security incidents, while allowing productivity? I, for one, will be eagerly watching CheckPoint’s IntelliStore and Palo Alto Networks’ and Fortinet’s to see if they can provide some actual, useable context needed for context-based security.  Perhaps this the dawn of a new service-based “contextual-aware” solution market where every access to data can be bagged and tagged, but not publicly disclosed.  Allowing for the greater masses to create proactive resilience through a combination of people, process, and technology.

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From Greatest to Even Greater. Is That Even Possible?

In 2015, Vivo had one of its most profitable years in company history.

As recruiters, the success was particularly satisfying. When you break down the numbers, it’s all there. More fills. More starts. More consultants. More clients. More money. Record highs across the board.

Sure, all of that can and should be attributed to a myriad of different factors, but make no mistake – the recruiting department made its mark in a big way. We set lofty goals, and we met them.

Success can be a funny thing, though.

For those who achieve it, it can either push you to new heights, or be a trigger for unrelenting pressure. You can build on it, or let it eat away at you. You could even go so far as to say that success is as much a curse as it is a blessing. If anything, it’s an opportunity to either get better, or get worse.

So the question remains. As recruiters, how do we get better in 2016? Can we get better?

81f8b6b43b014afeacaf92045a55dab2-81f8b6b43b014afeacaf92045a55dab2-0To gain some perspective, let’s take a look at our hometown heroes, the Golden State Warriors, and more notably, reigning NBA MVP and basketball demigod, Stephen Curry.  We’d be hard pressed to find any singular team in sports that had as successful a year as the Warriors in 2015, and no player attributed to, or benefited more from it than Steph.

Let’s take a look at some numbers. Sixty five regular season wins, with forty five by double digits. Thirty nine of those wins came at home, only losing twice, while twenty eight others came on the road. All franchise records. The Warriors amassed 28, 30+ assist games while putting up a 16-game winning streak from mid-November to mid-December. All of this with first-year head coach Steve Kerr amassing a .817 winning percentage (the highest marks ever by a first-year head coach in NBA history), Curry winning his first league MVP, and, of course, Golden State capturing its 4th franchise championship after a 40-year drought.

Speaking of Curry, he capped off the year by being named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for 2015, only the 4th NBA player in history to be given such an honor, winning an ESPY for Best Male Athlete, releasing his own signature shoe with rising giant Under Armour, and, to everyone’s delight, introducing us to the cutest and sassiest 3 year old in Hollywood, Riley Curry. You know. No big deal.

Let’s face it. That’s just a fraction of the accolades I could muster up in what is now etched in NBA lore, but I think you get the picture. No one would bat an eye if the Warriors regressed to the mean for 2016. As a matter of fact, it would be expected.

I mean, they’re practically rewriting history with each 3 pointer made… so how does one improve after making history? Surely there would be at least some drop off, right?

Well, no one told Golden State.

The team is currently on pace to break the record for wins in a regular season at 53 – 5 (73 – 9 being the goal, respectively), and as for Curry? He’s merely having the greatest single season of any player in NBA history up to this point, and if you didn’t see his buzzer beater to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, then I don’t know what to tell you.

The point is, the Warriors didn’t let success tie them down, but instead, used it as their foundation to work even harder. When something has never been done before, it doesn’t mean that it is impossible, and that’s the approach to success that we have decided to take here at Vivo.

Having a year like we did last year allows us to pick apart our triumphs and expand on them. What worked? What didn’t work? How can we break new ground?

These are all questions that should be asked no matter how well things are going, but it’s a lot easier when you have a platform of success to stand on. We are all inspired by greatness, just like the Golden State Warriors. The way they’ve gone about their business this year is an example that we should all try to emulate.

The players have fun with what they’re doing on the court, and there’s no doubt that we have our fun as recruiters in our office. We laugh, we dance, we celebrate, but most importantly, we get things done.

The Warriors and Stephen Curry are pushing the envelope in regard to what winning basketball looks like, and we want to create the same type of shift in our industry. Break conventional wisdom. So to answer the question “can we get better?” Absolutely. We even plan on turning some heads while we do it.

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Sometimes you wanna go…

stock-illustration-54894124-beautiful-girl-in-winter[1]I am writing this from Detroit Metro Airport, waiting for my plane back to California. Home. Silicon Valley. But, I must say, this trip really changed me, and my view of visiting sub-arctic Middle American cities.

A few years ago, when my friend and client “R” suggested that we consider Detroit for our next geographic expansion, of course I smiled and nodded. But, behind the rolled eyes I tried to hide, I hid my belief that he was thought he was crazy to suggest any such location.

Fast forward to Fall of 2015, and he calls me as he’s departing Silicon Valley, to let me know he’s taken a role as CIO of a hot, fast-growing Ann Arbor-based company. Now, will I open an office, he asked? I jumped on the next plane (exaggeration or poetic license?).

While the November trip was informative, this week’s trip was life-changing. In November, we toured, we saw, we took in. We were almost too busy to take anything in. Oh, and it was 70 degrees. So, the anomalistic weather made it a non-reality-based experience, as well.

This week, Kevan, my regional director and I went on countless meetings – including meeting R, and his newest Director. I’m not sure words will do justice to how at home I was. The personality from every snarky, fast-paced, quick-witted person I grew up with in New York, was somehow transplanted into the work ethic and mindset of the hard-charging Silicon Valley crowd I love. The “if-they-mated” final output, was the Greater Detroit tech management.

Immediately, I was at home. I would stay forever, but for the high of 27 degrees, and the reality that even the cutest of winter boots are still slipping on black ice, or getting stained by salt. Plus, red (my new nose color) is not my best look. Back to California I go. Richer, and excited for my next trip. You know, in June.

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“But They Worked Hard” – Reasons to Analyze Your KPIs in January (and Every Month)

stock-illustration-82541387-financial-analystFirst, let’s define KPIs. Key Performance Indicators, or “KPIs” are, by definition, the metrics and measurables a business examines to determine how effectively a company is achieving business objectives. At the department level, it is how the department evaluates its success at reaching targets.

All too often, company and department goals are set – perhaps, annually or quarterly – but no thought is given to the real way in which to analyze performance against those goals. Oddly, many use the term “KPIs” – from project managers through department managers, through executives, board members and analysts. But, did they simply select a measurable unit, without really stopping to determine if the unit itself is a true indicator of how the company is doing in meeting its objectives?

So, my fellow managers, I challenge you: don’t blindly agree to measure your department/division/team based on pre-defined metrics. Read each measurable unit. Ask yourself, “does meeting this goal drive business targets?”, and “do I know the true business objectives as they pertain to these numbers?”

Say What?
OK, let’s start with a simple example – call center KPIs. If you are the call center manager, did you – on behalf of your department—agree to spend less than 60 seconds on all Level 1 calls or something similar? If so, then each week, you log into the phone or ticketing system, and run a simple report showing success or failure against this metric, right?

Now, this may be fine. But, keep in mind what you are measuring. You have agreed that a good indicator of the level of service your team is providing is the number of calls handled, and/or the speed by which calls are handled. When it comes time for your team members’ reviews, this is when managers try to argue that “my team handled some really important issues this quarter”, or perhaps, “we got 4 customer reviews commending us for excellence.” Or maybe even, “we stayed on calls longer, which enabled the Level 2 team to spend their time on more complex issues.”

But again, you agreed to measure time spent on calls, and by doing so (perhaps inadvertently) agreed that this – and not quality of call, not complexity of calls, not level of service given – was important to the business achieving its goals. Conversely, let’s say this is the most important criteria, and that there is a business objective that requires speed of call handling, above all else. Well then, you as manager do not really have the right to change the rules and argue for a different measurement. If your department goal was to reduce time on calls, then it is your job as manager to hit that mark.

So What?
All of this is really to say that it is your job as a manager to know what is being measured, understand the business aims for the specific performance goals, and to educate your team on the same. The time to suggest that a different item is more important to the business and should be measured to determine department success, is when that change occurs. It is not a hindsight test, and will not bode well when the “but they did do well in this other area” argument is made, come raise/bonus time.

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Laugh! Find Humor Everywhere.

Never afraid to laugh at ourselves, in the spirit of Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets, we had a few Vivoers read some love notes from our anonymous frenemies. Take a look, get to know us if you don’t already, and judge for yourself.

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Vivo Expands to Michigan

Detroit, Michigan – December 16, 2015 – Vivo, the Silicon Valley-based company that specializes in IT consulting, staffing and executive search, opened an office this week in Detroit, MI on December 14, 2015, marking the company’s fifth geographic region.

“The greater Metro Detroit area is home to some of the world’s best known companies, making this a great choice for our latest expansion,” according to Marilyn Weinstein, Chief Executive Officer, Vivo. “Southeast Michigan has become a home for numerous technology start ups. We are excited to help our clients grow,” said Kevan June, Regional Director at Vivo.

According to Automation Alley, the Southeast Michigan business accelerator and association of technology professionals, the Metro Detroit area is the fastest growing region for tech jobs in the nation with a diversified and significant high tech talent base.

When compared to the 14 national tech hubs (including San Jose, Seattle, Austin, Chicago and Boston), metro Detroit ranks first in the number of advanced automotive jobs, the number of engineering degrees earned, and the number of engineering and architectural jobs available.

About Vivo:

Vivo was founded in 2006 and initially opened doors as iTalent Solutions—with a primary focus on IT staffing. Today Vivo provides clients with trusted, mid-to-senior-level IT consultants, and uniquely tailored solutions.

Visit Vivo on the web at:


Attn: Sarah Kesher, Marketing Director
7901 Stoneridge Drive, Ste 440
Pleasanton, CA 94588