Readers share stories of themselves or friends and relatives deemed suspicious for simply walking around in their own skin.
President Donald Trump routinely calls old friends, business partners, and confidants on his personal iPhone while in the White House, giving Chinese and Russia spies easy access to his personal communications and interests, reports The New York Times.
The story cites American intelligence reports, which detail how Trump aides have repeatedly warned the president not to use his personal iPhone and to use the secure White House landline instead. Despite the warnings, Trump continues to take personal cellphone calls, and the White House has resolved to simply hoping the president doesn’t discuss classified matters over the phone.
According to the report, US intelligence agencies have reason to believe that Chinese and Russian spies are regularly eavesdropping on Trump’s calls by way of human sources within foreign governments and through the interception of communications between foreign officials.
The goal, according to the NYT, is to keep Trump from escalating the ongoing trade war with China, with Chinese intelligence agencies hoping that by learning more about Trump’s behavior, they can use people close to him to influence policy. The Russians are thought to be a running a less sophisticated operation because of Trump’s close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which apparently makes influencing Trump to favor Russian interests less of a concern.
As The New York Times puts it, this is a classic intelligence strategy tailored to the specific situation of a president that regularly defies his aides and refuses to follow protocol:
China’s effort is a 21st-century version of what officials there have been doing for many decades, which is trying to influence American leaders by cultivating an informal network of prominent businesspeople and academics who can be sold on ideas and policy prescriptions and then carry them to the White House. The difference now is that China, through its eavesdropping on Mr. Trump’s calls, has a far clearer idea of who carries the most influence with the president, and what arguments tend to work.
Trump reportedly carries around three iPhones, with only two of them containing National Security Agency protections that would limit the ability for others to intercept communications or otherwise exploit vulnerabilities in the device. Trump’s third iPhone is a standard one no different than any of the millions of devices used by Americans every day, and Trump reportedly uses it to call people because he can store his contacts in it. According to the NYT, it is relatively easy for both the US and foreign governments to intercept communications as they travel between cell towers and satellites, and tapping the phones of foreign leaders is considered a highly effective form of modern spying.
Previous leaders, like former President Barack Obama, used modified iPhones that could not make calls or take pictures and that only received incoming messages from a special email address. The devices also often did not contain microphones, while texting was prohibited. Trump, on the other hand, sometimes uses a device with none of those protections whatsoever. Although Trump did eventually give up his insecure Android phone last year, generating headlines about his vulnerable electronic device use, he does not appear to follow standard protocol. The one silver lining here is that Trump does not text or use email, reducing the number of potential attack points for foreign agencies and hackers.
Posted by HeatherPhysiocHave you ever made SEO recommendations that just don’t go anywhere? Maybe you run into a lack of budget, or you can’t get buy-in from your boss or colleagues. Maybe your work just keeps getting deprioritized in favor of other initiatives. Whatever the case, it’s important to set yourself up for success when it comes to the tangled web of red tape that’s part and parcel of most organizations. In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Heather Physioc shares her tried-and-true methods for building yourself a toolkit that’ll help you tear through roadblocks and bureaucracy to get your work implemented.
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Video TranscriptionWhat up, Moz fans? This is Heather Physioc. I’m the Director of the Discoverability Group at VML, headquartered in Kansas City. So today we’re going to talk about how to build your red tape toolkit to overcome obstacles to getting your search work implemented. So do you ever feel like your recommendations are overlooked, ignored, forgotten, deprioritized, or otherwise just not getting implemented?
Common roadblocks to implementing SEO recommendations
If so, you’re not alone. So I asked 140-plus of our industry colleagues the blockers that they run into and how they overcome them.
Low knowledge. So if you’re anything like every other SEO ever, you might be running into low knowledge and understanding of search, either on the client side or within your own agency.
Low buy-in. You may be running into low buy-in. People don’t care about SEO as much as you do.
Poor prioritization. So other things frequently come to the top of the list while SEO keeps falling further behind.
High bureaucracy. So a lot of red tape or slow approvals or no advocacy within the organization.
Not enough budget. A lot of times it’s not enough budget, not enough resources to get the work done.
Unclear and overcomplicated process. So people don’t know where they fit or even how to get started implementing your SEO work.
Bottlenecks. And finally bottlenecks where you’re just hitting blockers at every step along the way.
So if you’re in-house, you probably said that not enough budget and resources was your biggest problem. But on the agency side or individual practitioners, they said low understanding or knowledge of search on the client side was their biggest blocker.
So a lot of the time when we run into these blockers and it seems like nothing is getting done, we start to play the blame game. We start to complain that it’s the client who hung up the project or if the client had only listened or it’s something wrong with the client’s business.
Build out your red tape toolkitBut I don’t buy it. So we’re going to not do that. We’re going to build out our red tape toolkit. So here are some of the suggestions that came out of that survey.
1. Assess client maturity
First is to assess your client’s maturity. This could include their knowledge and capabilities for doing SEO, but also their organizational search program, the people, process, ability to plan, knowledge, capacity.
These are the problems that tend to stand in the way of getting our best work done. So I’m not going to go in-depth here because we’ve actually put out a full-length article on the Moz blog and another Whiteboard Friday. So if you need to pause, watch that and come back, no problem.
2. Speak your client’s language
So the next thing to put in your toolkit is to speak your client’s language. I think a lot of times we’re guilty of talking to fellow SEOs instead of the CMOs and CEOs who buy into our work. So unless your client is a super technical mind or they have a strong search background, it’s in our best interests to lift up and stay at 30,000 feet. Let’s talk about things that they care about, and I promise you that is not canonicalization or SSL encryption and HTTPS.
They’re thinking about ROI and their customers and operational costs. Let’s translate and speak their language. Now this could also mean using analogies that they can relate to or visual examples and data visualizations that tell the story of search better than words ever could. Help them understand. Meet them in the middle.
3. Seek greater perspective
Now let’s seek greater perspective. So what this means is SEO does not or should not operate in a silo. We’re one small piece of your client’s much larger marketing mix. They have to think about the big picture. A lot of times our clients aren’t just dedicated to SEO. They’re not even dedicated to just digital sometimes. A lot of times they have to think about how all the pieces fit together. So we need to have the humility to understand where search fits into that and ladder our SEO goals up to the brand goals, campaign goals, business and revenue goals. We also need to understand that every SEO project we recommend comes with a time and a cost associated with it.
Everything we recommend to a CMO is an opportunity cost as well for something else that they could be working on. So we need to show them where search fits into that and how to make those hard choices. Sometimes SEO doesn’t need to be the leader. Sometimes we’re the follower, and that’s okay.
4. Get buy-inThe next tool in your toolkit is to get buy-in. So there are two kinds of buy-in you can get.
Horizontal buy-inOne is horizontal buy-in. So a lot of times search is dependent on other disciplines to get our work implemented. We need copywriters. We need developers. So the number-one complaint SEOs have is not being brought in early. That’s the same complaint all your teammates on development and copywriting and everywhere else have.
Respect the expertise and the value that they bring to this project and bring them to the table early. Let them weigh in on how this project can get done. Build mockups together. Put together a plan together. Estimate the level of effort together.
Vertical buy-inWhich leads us to vertical buy-in. Vertical is up and down. When you do this horizontal buy-in first, you’re able to go to the client with a much smarter, better vetted recommendation. So a lot of times your day-to-day client isn’t the final decision maker. They have to sell this opportunity internally. So give them the tools and the voice that they need to do that by the really strong recommendation you put together with your peers and make it easy for them to take it up to their boss and their CMO and their CEO. Then you really increase the likelihood that you’re going to get that work done.
5. Build a bulletproof plan
Next, build a bulletproof plan. Case studiesSo the number-one recommendation that came out of this survey was case studies. Case studies are great. They talk about the challenge that you tried to overcome, the solution, how you actually tackled it, and the results you got out of that.
Clients love case studies. They show that you have the chops to do the work. They better explain the outcomes and the benefits of doing this kind of work, and you took the risk on that kind of project with someone else’s money first. So that’s going to reduce the perceived risk in the client’s mind and increase the likelihood that they’re going to do the work. Make your plan simple and clear, with timelinesAnother thing that helps here is building a really simple, clear plan so it’s stupid-easy for everybody who needs to be a part of it to know where they fit in and what they’re responsible for. So do the due diligence to put together a step-by-step plan and assign ownership to each step and put timelines to it so they know what pace they should be following.Forecast ROIFinally, forecast ROI. This is not optional. So a lot of times I think SEOs are hesitant to forecast the potential outcomes or ROI of a project because of the sheer volume of unknowns.
We live in a world of theory, and it’s very hard to commit to something that we can’t be certain about. But we have to give the client some sense of return. We have to know why we are recommending this project over others. There’s a wealth of resources out there to do that for even heavily caveated and conservative estimate, including case studies that others have published online.
Show the cost of inactionNow sometimes forecasting the opportunity of ROI isn’t enough to light a fire for clients. Sometimes we need to show them the cost of inaction. I find that with clients the risk is not so much that they’re going to make the wrong move. It’s that they’ll make no move at all. So a lot of times we will visualize what that might look like. So we’ll show them this is the kind of growth we think that you can get if you invest and you follow this plan we put together.
Here’s what it will look like if you invest just a little to monitor and maintain, but you’re not aggressively investing in search. Oh, and here, dropping down and to the right, is what happens when you don’t invest at all. You stagnate and you get surpassed by your competitors. That can be really helpful for clients to contrast those different levels of investment and convince them to do the work that you’re recommending.
6. Use headlines
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sees the Jamal Khashoggi case as a chance to hobble Saudi Arabia, a regional and religious rival.
Drake has transitioned from casual Fortnite player into video game overlord today, assuming the mantle of co-owner of professional e-sports organization 100 Thieves.
Drake and producer Scooter Braun (best known for working with fellow Canadian superstar Justin Bieber) are now co-owners of Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag’s 100 Thieves, coming in as the company completes its Series A funding round.
The choice to invest is an adventurous one for Drake and Braun, but not completely surprising. Unlike other popular e-sports organizations, like Evil Geniuses and Cloud9, 100 Thieves is more on par with a streetwear brand. They’re the Supreme of e-sports, alongside groups like FaZe Clan, which is run by popular YouTube creator, FaZe Banks. In fact, the official press release regarding Drake and Braun’s investment refers to 100 Thieves as a e-sports organization third, after “lifestyle brand” and “apparel” company.
From a business perspective, Haag is the type of creator and former professional gamer that Drake would want to align himself with. Haag’s extremely popular on YouTube, well connected, and influential within the e-sports entertainment sphere. Drake has already proven he has a connection with some of today’s most popular gaming entertainers and players — his relationship with Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is well documented. This appears to be a next step in that development.
Drake and Braun join Haag and Cleveland Cavaliers chairman, Dan Gilbert, as co-owners of 100 Thieves. The next step is developing apparel collaborations between 100 Thieves and Drake, according to a press release. It’s unclear if this will be a crossover with Drake’s current clothing line, OVO, or if it will remain separate.