This Key Threat to Fortune 500 Companies Often Goes Unaddressed

Written by Kim Del Fierro, VP of Marketing for Area 1 Security, Contributing Writer for InFluential Magazine 

Kim Del Fierro, VP of Marketing for Area 1 Security.

Kim Del Fierro, VP of Marketing for Area 1 Security.

Fortune 500 companies have an impressive aura around them and well-earned reputations. Their leaders have achieved what many smaller companies’ executives aspire to accomplish. However, they also encounter more difficult challenges than one might expect. Despite the major resources that Fortune 500 companies possess, or rather, precisely because of them, Fortune 500 companies still face plenty of security risks. The target on a Fortune 500 company is much bigger than that of a small business because there’s inherently more value in compromising them.

Unfortunately, these companies also experience breaches coming from a widespread threat that no one seems to know how to address. It’s the cause of 95 percent of big attacks on Fortune 500 companies; namely, theft of employee credentials, usually via phish. How do cybercriminals exploit the threat to these companies?

It Starts with Stealing Credentials

Even though Fortune 500 companies go to great lengths to prevent breaches and data theft by hackers, it’s still happening. That’s because despite these companies’ heavy investments in cybersecurity, humans will always be the weakest link in almost any security system.

For example, if a phishing email finds its way into an employee’s inbox, there aren’t many ways to prevent that employee from opening it, and then clicking on a suspicious link or otherwise letting hackers compromise their credentials. Once that happens, hackers can move on to inflict further damage with malware, gaining access to essential servers.

Executing the Attack

Once they breach a company’s defenses, hackers can carry out their attacks in various ways. There are plenty of targets they can infest with malware and make inoperable. Criminals can steal or wipe valuable data, destroy the backup systems, and wreak havoc on disaster recovery systems. It’s a costly battle for Fortune 500 companies, and extremely difficult to recover from.

Preventing the Phishing Threat

Once the cybercriminals invade your infrastructure, it’s hard to rout them out before damage is done. That’s why preventing that first successful phishing attack is critical.

Relying on training your employees to recognize and report phishing attacks does not always yield the desired results. Even alert and motivated employees don’t have the knowledge and skills of a security manager.

Fortunately, once you stop the 95 percent of threats that arrive by phishing, the remaining five percent of attacks are easily preventable by regular patching and updating your security systems.

Area 1 Security offers phishing protection that you can add to the cyber security solutions you already have. We proactively cover your greatest vulnerabilities and prevent the majority of dangerous attacks, while your existing cybersecurity tackles everything else.

Detecting a phishing attack proactively, before it even becomes a threat, is the only way to stop phish from continuously landing in your employees’ inboxes. With Area 1 Horizon, you can stop phishing once and for all.

Innovate Business Models with SophiaTX: A Revolutionary Enterprise Blockchain Platform Pushing Adoption in the ASEAN

A successful enterprise blockchain event dubbed BUSINESS REDEFINED 2018 was held on September 25 at Suntec City, Singapore and September 27 at Connexion, Malaysia, representing the first step in building an ecosystem across ASEAN.

[Welcome Remarks] Jaroslav Kacina, CEO of SophiaTX

[Welcome Remarks] Jaroslav Kacina, CEO of SophiaTX

The invite-only events were hosted by a Swiss-based company Equidato Technologies AG, delivering the innovative SophiaTX Blockchain platform. SophiaTX is the world’s first public blockchain primarily focused on integration with ERP systems such as SAP. The Singapore and Malaysia events provided a unique opportunity to learn about the enterprise-grade blockchain and delivered groundbreaking debate by participants from diverse businesses and industries – including Apple, Cheng & Co, EY, British American Tobacco, Averis and GlaxoSmithKline, to mention a few.

During the events, the CEO of SophiaTX, Jaroslav Kacina and several other team members revealed a spectrum of blockchain capabilities which SophiaTX can offer to companies across a variety of industries. The team also showcased vast opportunities for enterprises seeking to reimagine their existing business models and processes, or simply achieve greater efficiency in their existing business networks.

Today, business systems such as ERP and CRM are a backbone to every company, regardless of its size. Along with its unique blockchain, the SophiaTX team also provides a set of tools and technologies enabling companies to integrate with and enhance enterprise systems such as SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, and many more.

Delivering the keynote at the event, Jaroslav said: “As the blockchain is already becoming a real opportunity for many companies and their future, it is crucial to have both mindset and know-how to make blockchain part of new digital strategies. It is vital that you, as top leaders, take a hard look at operating models, identify potential disruptions within industry and markets, and simply push forward. Joining SophiaTX can accelerate the business innovation cycle dramatically.”

Mr. Kacina’s speech was followed by a live SophiaTX platform demonstration by team members Marian Hires, Martyn Harler and Lubomir Vranka. The team showcased supply chain optimization opportunities in the automotive industry with integration to SAP S/4HANA and SAP Business One systems. The demo and discussion extended into how the platform can enhance enterprise systems to enable innovative use cases and processes within several other industries. For example, SophiaTX helps companies overcome common problems such as lack of end-to-end supply chain visibility with insight to planned and current demand, traceability of critical items and inventory, constraints in supply at any desired level of the product hierarchy, and improper management of changes to already placed orders.

“Use of blockchain-based applications in supply chain management streamlines the sharing of data, ensuring both the accuracy and availability of the information among all members in a multi-tier supplier ecosystem” Mr. Vranka explained during the live demo.

“In summary, the SophiaTX blockchain platform, build on a fast and secure protocol, provides efficient sharing of data and removes the main obstacle that companies face in collaboration. It simply enables new breakthrough efficiencies in coordination across entire value chains.”, Jaroslav explained during the discussion.

Mr. Kacina pointed out the example of the Internet of Things (IoT), where the technology and sensors represent one of the fastest growing techs today. Combined with blockchain technology, IoT sensors can provide true transparency, trust, and level of collaboration that will lead to a completely new set of market behaviors and subsequently products and services.

Noticeably, SophiaTX’s roadmap also includes not only IoT integration but also wearables, smart devices, and other technologies including Analytics and Big Data, Robotics, and Artificial Intelligence. This range of technologies allows traditional ERP systems to evolve into more hybrid Enterprise / ERP systems with new digitally enabled business functions and processes with greater agility and independence.

[Panel discussion] (From Left to Right) Jaroslav Kacina, CEO of SophiaTX, Jan Peter Speijer, Head of Products at SophiaTX, Effendy Zulkifly, CEO of Blockchain Academy Asia, & Tom Wong, CEO of Cheng & Co.

[Panel discussion] (From Left to Right) Jaroslav Kacina, CEO of SophiaTX, Jan Peter Speijer, Head of Products at SophiaTX, Effendy Zulkifly, CEO of Blockchain Academy Asia, & Tom Wong, CEO of Cheng & Co.

The event concluded with a discussion panel between CEO of Cheng & Co, Tom Wong; CEO of Blockchain Academy Asia, Effendy Zulkifly and Head of Products at SophiaTX, Jan Peter Speijer.

It’s Our 7th Anniversary!

William Jackson, Found & Chief Business Officer of InFluential Magazine, Spanish InFluential, and Teen InFluential

William Jackson, Founder & Chief Business Officer of InFluential Magazine, Spanish InFluential, and Teen InFluential

On the one hand, it feels like I’ve been doing this for a lifetime, while on the other, I find myself wondering “Where did the years go?” It’s been a year of excitement, highs and lows, long work days and restless nights, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

This past year has taught me so many useful lessons, and one that really stands out is just how important it is for individuals to be patient, long-suffering, and kind toward others; without judgement.  In a culture where freedom of speech is widely encouraged, many seem to have lost sight on the importance of having something of positive and encouraging to say, tempered with applying the “Golden Rule”.  As a reminder, the “Golden Rule” admonishes us to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  Of course, the lack of applying the “Golden Rule” is almost always to our detriment.

In previous Publisher’s Notes, I shared my own struggle with trying to ensure I live a well-balanced life and making such a priority. Although, I still have room for improvement, I’ve been making slow but steady progress. I recently began adding the practice of yoga to my regular health & wellness routine, something I never would have imagined in a thousand years. But thankfully, it’s doing wonders for me. I feel calmer, am resting better, and my days are less hectic.

It’s with this newfound sense of balance and calm I wish to collaborate with you as we begin our seventh year. On that note, I’m thrilled to welcome you to our Seventh Anniversary Edition!  One of our Exclusive Interviews is with Hanna Jaffe Bosdet.  The well-known Philanthropist, human rights activist, speaker, and author opens up about her new acting role in NETFLIX’s first Mexican reality series Made in Mexico, and what’s she’s doing to raise awareness of important topics such as human rights, immigrants, refugees, peace, and the importance of education.  Being that this also our Style Edition, of course we had to bring you many topics related to style and its impact as we strive to live well.

I invite you to feast your eyes on this stunning Seventh Anniversary Edition and enjoy reading the rest of the amazing features we have for you in this Edition.  May this Edition inform and inspire you to continue living your best life.

From my very being, I thank you for being a dedicated reader. Seven thrilling years would not be possible without you.  I’m so grateful to and inspired by the entire InFluential Magazine, Spanish InFluential, andTeen InFluential teams, who work tirelessly to bring you our award-winning publications. I’m truly excited about the future of InFluential Magazine, Spanish InFluential, and Teen InFluential, and I believe the best is yet to come.

Fondly and with Great Enthusiasm,

William Jackson

Founder & Chief Business Officer of InFluential Magazine, Spanish InFluential, and Teen InFluential

Top Three Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities Your Business Faces Right Now

Written By Kim Del Fierro, VP of Marketing for Area 1 Security 

The business world has become more competitive than ever. Not only is there increased pressure on companies to be profitable, but also to keep information safe. For many companies, cybersecurity is an area that’s easy to cut back on, but that can prove to be an expensive mistake.

According to the PwC Global Economic Crime Report, cybercrime is now the second most reported economic crime, affecting 31 percent of organizations. The percentage is high, and if cybersecurity doesn’t become a priority in business, it will certainly get higher. As the leader and owner of a company, do you know which cybersecurity vulnerabilities your organization may have right now? Let’s take a look:

1. Lack of Policies that Prevent Most Common Threats

The first and most apparent vulnerability in any system relates to security fundamentals. Today, every company needs a cybersecurity policy to set security standards. Specific, well-established practices such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) have proven risky and need to be strictly governed. According to the 2018 Verizon Mobile Security Index, 74 percent of businesses say that their mobile security risks have gone up in the past year. Therefore, if you haven’t set strict security standards for your employees to follow, it’s time to start.

2. Reactive Mindset

Due to resource constraints, many organizations will do only the bare minimum when it comes to cybersecurity. However, in this day and age, covering the basics is not enough. Waiting for an attack to happen and then reacting is a sure-fire way for you to be much worse off when everything is over than if you had taken proper steps to protect your assets.

While having a reaction plan in place is generally considered good practice, that can’t be the extent of your cybersecurity solutions. Considering how fast cybersecurity threats are evolving, investing in proactive security solutions is quickly becoming a must for businesses.

3. The Human Factor

According to Experian’s 2018 Managing Insider Risk Through Training and Culture Report, 66 percent of surveyed professionals felt that employees posed the greatest vulnerability when it came to cyberthreats.

This isn’t unexpected, considering that the human factor is usually the weakest link in any security system. While training can help to eliminate the most common causes of human error in cybersecurity, described as “general carelessness,” it isn’t enough.

When you take into consideration the fact that a majority of organizations face phishing email attacks frequently, the scope of the problem falls into perspective. Even when employees are rigorously trained, mistakes happen. All it takes is one careless reaction to a suspicious email.

This is why we must work on solutions that prevent phishing cyberattacks before they even reach your employees’ inboxes. Area 1 Security’s Anti-Phishing solution offers precisely that, by spotting phishing attacks days in advance.

Businesses today might be even more vulnerable than they seem to their owners. It’s crucial for every C-level executive to know precisely what type of damage a data breach can inflict, and which proactive solutions can prevent it from happening. When it comes to phishing attacks, you’ll be far safer with Area 1 Horizon, the anti-phishing technology that neutralizes today’s most dangerous cybersecurity threats.

Kim Del Fierro, VP of Marketing for Area 1 Security.

Kim Del Fierro, VP of Marketing for Area 1 Security

The Blockchain Skill Gap: Do We Have What It Takes to Build the Tools of Tomorrow?

Written by Donika Kraeva

Donika Kraeva

Donika Kraeva

The demand for blockchain engineers is at an all-time high. That shouldn’t come as a surprise given that the market cap for cryptocurrency increased from $17.7 billion to $565.1 billion last year. Now that more startups are embracing decentralized systems and existing businesses are offering cryptocurrency-related services, there’s an increasing need for highly-skilled professionals. However, there seems to be a serious talent shortage in this field. That means the exponential growth of the industry has left companies competing for developers from the same tech pool.

So, what do we need to bridge the skill gap? 

The Rise of Blockchain Tech

Today, we see blockchain reshaping several industries like retail and healthcare. Non-profit organizations and government agencies are also catching up, using blockchain to encourage trust through open and transparent networks.

Juniper Research conducted a study and found that venture capital investments in Blockchain and Bitcoin tech reached $300 million in the first six months of 2016 alone. Within a year, more than $1 billion had been diverted towards the development of blockchain startups.

One of these startups – globally applied and thus widely discussed lately – is Dentacoin. It’s the world’s first blockchain-based platform offering numerous applications and an industry-specific cryptocurrency to improve the access to, as well as the quality of dental care worldwide. With its insurance-like model, patients can receive lifelong preventive care through inexpensive fees paid in the DCN currency. Moreover, patients who maintain good oral hygiene through their mobile app, take surveys on their market research platform or give detailed feedback to their dentists are rewarded with the cryptocurrency, that can be used for covering dental services at more than 60 locations globally. Dentacoin is an example of a blockchain company that has successfully combined the skills of blockchain developers and real industry specialists (dentists, healthcare marketing specialists) to gain traction globally within a short time period.  

Blockchain Training Programs

Despite being in its primary stages, blockchain is a rapidly evolving field, and even the academic world is aware of its potential. To bridge the skill gap in this area, universities all over the world are now working with private companies to provide blockchain-related training programs and courses.

Developers who are interested in acquiring blockchain skills will be able to do so through numerous open online courses. As mentioned, universities are also offering lectures to match the increasing demand of the job market. Stanford University, for instance, provides hands-on courses to developers, including a three-unit classroom lecture with lab sessions focused on Bitcoin applications.

Apart from these, there are even greater movements set in place to bridge the talent gap in the blockchain industry. Let’s take Ethereum for example. It provides an initiative program that rewards developers who delete bugs and security flaws with cryptocurrency. However, FundRequest took this approach up a notch when they started a decentralized platform for open source collaboration. Their goal is to get the entire community mobilized and engaged. From there, programmers who want to get involved with blockchain can find projects like SingularityNET, which aims to accelerate the growth of the network by offering bounties and initiatives.

Conclusion

Education and specialized training are the best solutions for addressing the shortage of blockchain talents. To bridge the gap, there must be a globalized approach to training programs. Courses must be made accessible to developers around the world. We would have a better shot at bridging the talent gap if we make more programs available today.

Bounties and development initiatives encourage programmers to take up skills that are in demand, especially relating to blockchain. But will these be enough to ensure the future of the entire industry?

To drive the industry forward, we must support blockchain research as well. Some of the most brilliant developers today have yet to acquire the skills to operate in this new space. When they do, they must have the resources to innovate and build the tools of tomorrow.

If You’re a Busy Journalist Who’s Pressed For Time, Check Out These 10+ Time-Saving Solutions!

From accurate transcription services to secure messaging apps and curated podcasts, here are a list of tools for the increasingly busy journalist 

With Donald Trump’s “fake news,” the WikiLeaks scandal, the troll farms and increasing pressures to produce more unique content faster – professional journalists are working harder than ever trying to distinguish facts from fake information, record and edit video interviews and meet tight deadlines.

Solutions such as Go Transcript, Tape a Call, and Threema will make life easier for any journalist and their increasing workloads – but what are the other alternative solutions on the market? 

Transcription

Transcription has long been the bane of all journalists, and almost a rite of passage to journalists starting out their career. Even in this age of smartphones, there are very few alternatives to just putting on a pair of headphones and getting on with writing up that ten-minute interview that will most likely take around an hour. One transcription tool used by journalists is Go Transcript - a transcription service best-known for providing human-driven solutions, with an accuracy rate of 99%. Go Transcript has also previously been favoured by internationally-recognized media outlets such as the BBC and the Huffington Post. Automated transcription is also a solution, with providers such as Trint and oTranscribe providing an AI-based alternative. However, AI-transcription providers programmes may lack in accuracy in the event of excessive background noise or multiple speakers.

Voice

Making voice recordings (interviews and phone calls) used to be a problem. It sometimes involved a smartphone or tablet, a quiet room, recording the voice through the computer, then transferring it to the smart device. Thankfully, those days are over – suggested ways to record inbound calls are Tape a Call (iOS), which allows for the immediate download of incoming and outgoing calls, whilst Automatic Call Recorder provides Android users with a similar solution. For a desktop alternative, there is Simple Recorder which is free. 

Secure messaging apps

WikiLeaks, Panama Papers and most recently, the Cambridge Analytica Scandal have all brought wider awareness to the need for encrypted messaging apps. WhatsAppTelegram, and Viber are the most recognized apps of this type, but there are a number of other paid and non-paid alternatives on the market. South Korea’s KakaoTalk is one such option available for iOS and Android, as is Signal. Another newcomer is Swiss-made Threema, which even allows users to pin-protect their messages, media files, and voice calls. Unlike Kakao and Signal, it is a paid app.

Video editing

With the age of the smartphone in full-swing, video journalism isn’t going anywhere. Whilst mobile video editing is currently unable to match the power of desktop software, there are still a number of good apps that will make a mobile video look much more professional than it would do in its original form. In addition to standard in-built software for iOS and Android, there are also apps such as Magisto for the storytelling journalist, and FilamoraGo, which has been developed by Filamore who are already widely-praised for their video software.

Podcasts

Additional data shows that 48% of 18-25 year olds and 48% of 25-34 year olds in 2018 listen to a news podcast on a monthly basis. Journalists are no exception here. With more and more news being consumed via podcasts, Spreaker curates podcasts based on listener behaviour, and Overcast provides users with a handsome UX that sadly lacks in curation features and 3D touch support.

With a seeming abundance of solutions on the market aimed at making journalists’ lives easier, there is an answer to any journalists’ needs – whether they’d be cutting their teeth in the industry after graduation, a freelancer, or a seasoned veteran. All it takes is some experimenting to figure out what suits their needs best.

Why Focusing on People and Data Might Be the Distraction Hackers Need to Infiltrate Big Business

Written by Kim Del Fierro, VP of Marketing for Area 1 Security, Contributing Writer for InFluential Magazine

Kim Del Fierro

Kim Del Fierro

We live in times when it’s become easier than ever for hackers to breach an organization through social engineering. Breaches are primarily caused by phishing attacks, representing a huge security problem for businesses.

But why is this type of cybercriminal so widely represented in the statistics? What is it that makes it so easy and so profitable for hackers? We might not like the answers. The ever-increasing connectivity and focus on people and data is leaving us vulnerable to malicious attacks. To protect your business, you need to start thinking like a hacker. Let’s take a look at how they infiltrate big business and what can be done about it.

How Social Engineering Works

Since social engineering relies on personal information hackers can find online, it’s pretty difficult to counter. Before; that required some digging on the hacker’s part – now all it takes is a data-matching service like Spokeo and PeekYou, and they get all the information they might need and more. Cross-matching public records is one thing, but employees also freely share a lot of information on social media. This personal info is then used to target employees within a company with malicious emails, by posing as a trusted individual. From there, all a hacker needs to do is convince an employee to click on a malicious link or perform a wire transfer.

Are Individual Threats the Same as Company Threats?

As we can see, cybercriminals can efficiently use your social media information to reach their desired target within your company. Does that mean company executives should stop using social media altogether, or ban their employees from sharing any work-related information?

The short answer is yes. The long answer, if not “yes,” is that there should be strict policies in place about the use of social networks and what can and can’t be shared. For example, if a company executive posts about being on a business trip, hackers take that as a signal to try and perform BEC. Anything an employee posts about work projects or people they spend time with in the office can help cybercriminals construct an elaborate and believable social engineering scam. It is why every employee must assume the whole world is watching them when they want to post anything work-related on social media.

The frequency of Social Engineering and Phishing

It’s no accident that social engineering and phishing attacks are responsible for 95 percent of data breaches. They exploit what will always be the weak link in any company’s security chain – the people who work there. Relying on traditional protective measures such as firewall, antivirus, anti-spoofing techniques, etc. cannot stop all of these attacks. Education is vital for prevention, but with these scams getting more elaborate and difficult to spot, it doesn’t ensure safety.

What Can Protect Your Business?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you didn’t have to worry about phishing? Good news, the worrying stops today. It seems challenging to prevent phish, but Area 1 Security offers an Anti-Phishing Service that finds and eliminates phish through a combination of web crawling and small pattern analytics. With Area 1 Horizon, your business will be safe, and you won’t be adding to the pool of $5.3 billion in losses due to phishing attacks last year.

With the ever-increasing focus on people and data, businesses are leaving themselves wide open to hackers. In those circumstances, there are two options – limiting the information hackers can get about you through social media, or investing in preemptive and comprehensive phishing protection. At Area 1 Security, we stop phishing for good.

Land O’Lakes, Inc. Names Beth Ford President and CEO  

Ford brings decades of experience across six different industries as the company seeks to build on its track record of sustainable growth

Beth Ford

Beth Ford

The Land O’Lakes, Inc. Board of Directors announced today its selection of Beth Ford as President and CEO of one of the nation’s largest food and agricultural cooperatives and #216 on the Fortune 500. Ford assumes leadership of the company following the retirement of Chris Policinski. Ford will assume the role of President and CEO effective Aug. 1.

Ford comes to the CEO role after a series of successful executive postings within the company. In December 2017, Ford was named Chief Operating Officer of Land O’Lakes Businesses, in which role she oversaw Land O’Lakes’ WinField United, Purina Animal Nutrition and Dairy Foods business units. Prior to that, Ford was head of Land O’Lakes’ Dairy Foods and Purina Animal Nutrition businesses, where she led record performance and growth, leveraging innovation through R&D to strengthen both brands. She also was instrumental in the acquisition of Vermont Creamery in early 2017.

Prior to joining Land O’Lakes in 2011, Ford had excelled in executive operations management and supply chain roles at International Flavors and Fragrances, Mobil Corporation, PepsiCo and Pepsi Bottling Company and Scholastic. Ford has more than 20 years’ experience specifically in the areas of technology and R&D, as well, across these four companies.

Born in Sioux City, Iowa, Beth earned an MBA at Columbia University Business School and a BBA at Iowa State University. She remains involved in both universities, sitting on the Deming Center Board of Advisors for Columbia Business School and the Dean’s Advisory Committee for the College of Business at Iowa State.

Ford also sits on the Board of Directors for the National Milk Producers Federation and non-profit boards, including Greater Twin Cities United Way in Minneapolis. She sits on the Boards of Directors of two publicly traded companies, including PACCAR, Inc.

Announcing her appointment, Board Chairman Pete Kappelman said, “At a time of unprecedented change in the agriculture and food industries, no person is better suited to lead us into the future than Beth Ford. Since joining our company in 2011, Beth has proven she’s not afraid of hard work, and she sees every challenge as an opportunity to deliver more value for our cooperative. She’s built a track record of success in a wide array of leadership roles across a decades-long career, and in her seven years at Land O’Lakes, she has earned the trust and respect of our members, employees and customers. We are thrilled to have someone of such strong qualifications and character to build on the legacy of growth that Land O’Lakes has established.”

Commenting on her appointment, Ford said, “I’m humbled and honored to have the chance to serve this great organization. I am grateful to the Board of Directors for their trust in me and for the management team that built the strong foundation we currently enjoy. I look forward to continuing to work with the talented and dedicated leadership team, as well as our outstanding employees to deliver for our member-owners, customers and communities. There has never been a more exciting time to be in the agriculture and food industry. Together, our team will work to continue our growth trajectory, as we lead the way forward into the company’s next 100 years.”

Ford becomes the ninth CEO of Land O’Lakes, one of the nation’s largest agricultural cooperatives, which was founded in 1921. Ford and her spouse, Jill Schurtz, have three teenage children and live in Minneapolis.

About Land O’Lakes, Inc.  

Land O’Lakes, Inc., one of America’s premier agribusiness and food companies, is a member-owned cooperative with industry-leading operations that span the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods. With 2017 annual sales of $14 billion, Land O’Lakes is one of the nation’s largest cooperatives, ranking 216 on the Fortune 500. Building on a legacy of more than 97 years of operation, Land O’Lakes today operates some of the most respected brands in agribusiness and food production including LAND O LAKES® Dairy Foods, Purina Animal Nutrition, WinField United and Land O’Lakes SUSTAINTM. The company does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Land O’Lakes, Inc. corporate headquarters are located in Arden Hills, Minn.

How Two Rice Bowls and Four Chopsticks Turned Into a Billion-Dollar Business  

When the United States left Vietnam in 1975, it left behind a nation wracked with inflation, corruption and an identity crisis.  The country staggered through the 1980s as a socialist-capitalist country – it tried socialism first, then modified it with capitalism.

For the families that lived through the early post-American years in Vietnam, it was one crisis after another.  Yet one family not only survived and thrived, it built one of the largest businesses in Southeast Asia from scratch.

Phuong Tran

Phuong Tran

“My father started out with nothing more than two rice bowls and four chopsticks,” says Phuong Uyen Tran in her new book Competing with Giants, published by Forbes.

The company grew so large that Coca Cola wanted to buy it for more than $2 billion.

“He persevered because he had tenacity and placed his trust in his core values and people – his business associates, employees and customers.”

Her father, Tran Qui Thanh, is chairman and CEO of the beverage company Tan Hiep Phat (THP).  He turned down the offer from Coca Cola.  Thanh’s company now supplies beverages, including herbal and green teas, sports and energy drinks, soya milk and purified water across Vietnam plus 16 other countries, including China and Australia.  It is Vietnam’s largest family-owned manufacturer in the “Fast Moving Consumer Goods” category, employing more than 5,000 staff members nationwide.

“It is never easy to compete with giants,” says Phuong, “let alone face them down.” But her family legacy is a story that proves David can indeed compete with (and even outperform) Goliath. Watching her father turn down a sum of money most could never dream to see was an event that shaped Tran’s entire philosophy from that day forward.

What has Phuong learned from the family values her father always applies in business?

5 Family Values to Business Success:

  • Create an authentic local product.  Authentic local products are hard to beat.  That is because locals can beat the big guys in four critical areas – product, price, promotion and place.
  • Govern growth. Many companies on an upward trajectory just assume that their success will always continue.  The best companies prepare for the inevitable ups and downs of business by growing slowly and methodically.
  • Motivate employees and foster community spirit. As companies get bigger, they must focus on how their employees work with each other, as well as senior management and customers.
  • Adhere to standards. The best companies embrace standards rather than try to find ways to cut corners.  Her company adopted international standards for her products even though they were not forced to do so.
  • Take responsibility. The ultimate responsibility lies with each person at the business, regardless of if it is the owner, manager or employee.

Whether you start with rice bowls or owning the entire rice factory, scaling a business requires strategy, discipline and good old fashion family values.

About Phuong Uyen Tran

Phuong Uyen Tran, author of Competing with Giants (https://www.thp.com.vn/en/), is deputy CEO of the THP Beverage Group, a leading beverage company in Vietnam that was founded by her father. She is responsible for the company’s marketing, public relations, and CSR programs nationally and across Vietnam’s 63 provinces. She also leads THP’s international marketing programs across 16 countries where THP’s products are distributed including Canada and China.

How a Former Stuntman Became the Force Behind a Hit TV Show Building Unique Toys

Celebrity David Ankin shares how ingenuity can help fuel your business

People often find themselves in jobs where they know they don’t want to be for years to come. Yet many of those people are unsure what to do about it in order to move forward in the direction of a career of their dreams. For one former stuntman, he didn’t sit idly by and wish for a position he would be passionate about. Combining his passion for car shows that stemmed from his childhood with his ingenuity, he was able to take steps to create a career path that led to him having a hit television show building unique one-of-a-kind custom hot rods and cars for adults.

David Ankin

David Ankin

“I had to realize that being a stuntman wasn’t a long-term career. It was too hard on my body,” says David Ankin, inventor and star of the hit show ToyMakerz. “I decided to turn my passion into a career that I could grow in and others could also enjoy. Creativity is something that helped me get started in this field and remains a constant. Now the challenge is constantly coming up with something new and unique.”

Ingenuity, which is having the ability to be clever, original, or inventive, is what has propelled Ankin to the top of his field. But it’s not something that came to him overnight. In fact, he has been on the path since he was a child. Growing up without a lot of money, he wasn’t able to go out and buy the latest toy or car. But he also didn’t want his vehicles to look just like everyone else’s. That motivated him to learn to build his own. With his father as his inspiration, he hung out at his shop and watched in awe at the things that his dad could do.

As a child, Ankin also spent a lot of time being dedicated to bike and car shows. In fact, his idea of a vacation was working late into the night for six weeks to get ready for a bike or car show, then traveling halfway across the country and meeting up with other fabricators. When he wasn’t doing that, he was struggling to get his car or bike ready to win a race. At the end of the day, the factors that really influenced him on his journey are the industry itself and all the people and fabricators who no one will ever meet.

Today, his ingenuity has led to his company, ToyMakerz, where the toys are made, and has also been turned into a hit television show, where people can tune in and see him work his magic. Here are 5 ways that ingenuity can help fuel your business:

  1. Gets you noticed. With your business being set apart by being original, it will help get you noticed. People have become immune to everything being the same and they crave things that are different or stand out from the crowd. Whether it’s a restaurant, clothing line, or something else, being different will open the doors to a whole new audience.
  2. Helps with longevity. Those business leaders who are unique will be in a better position to roll with the punches. They don’t mind adapting and changing as the market demands. Rather than close up, they will be able to keep re-inventing themselves in order to keep thriving.
  3. Fuels decision making. Being able to come up with creative solutions to problems will help take a business to the next level. Those with ingenuity are not afraid to put their ideas out there, no matter how out of the box they may seem. Ultimately, that’s exactly what is needed to help grow their business.
  4. Offers drive. Business leaders with initiative have drive and determination. They are not afraid to take risks and they don’t wait around for someone else to make something happen. They come up with their own unique plans and put them in action to keep moving forward.
  5. Helps carve out opportunity. Whether fueled by your childhood passions or noticing what is missing in your city and wanting to make improvements, those with new ideas will create their own opportunity. They find a way to make things happen in the business world.

“The journey hasn’t been short or easy,” added Ankin. “It started as a childhood dream and has evolved over time. I happened to come across the right location to set up shop in Reidsville, NC, where the town and the people have been so supportive. Then, using ingenuity, I started assembling my team to help me grow my vision of ToyMakerz, and it’s still evolving today.”

ToyMakerz partnered with Source Digital to develop an app, which is helping fans connect with the show. Enhancing the viewer experience with new digital brand integrations, the ToyMakerz app lets fans connect with the cast, score exclusive deals on anything they see on the screen while they are watching the show live, and sharepictures of their own rides!

The ToyMakerz TV show, which is just weeks away from a major announcement, is currently re-airing episodes from season 2 On Demand on Velocity. ToyMakerz season one is also available on iTunes and Amazon. ToyMakerz is produced by Los Angeles based production company, Lucky13Cinematic. For more information about ToyMakerz, visit the site at: www.toymakerz.com.

About ToyMakerz

ToyMakerz is a company that makes toys for adults built for fun and speed. Some of their creations can be seen on the ToyMakerz hit television show focusing on the life and creations of Dave Ankin, a former stuntman who now makes toys for big boys. The company is co-owned by David Ankin and his business partner, David Young, and they create one-of-a-kind racing creations that Ankin visualizes and builds. ToyMakerz is currently being re-aired weekly on Velocity. For more information about ToyMakerz, visit the site at: www.toymakerz.com.