Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Our Funny Business

People come up to us all the time and ask, “How can I be funny?” Okay, well, maybe not all the time. And maybe it’s not people. It’s actually—

Okay, fine, we often ask ourselves “How can we be funny?” And after an extensive but fruitless search on Google for “funny making software,” we’re reminded of a formula handed down to us from on high. It’s the formula for a joke and it goes something like this:

Tragedy + distance = comedy

You might be asking, “So an earthquake on Neptune? That’s funny?” First, we would correct you: They don’t have “earthquakes” on Neptune, they have Nepquakes. Duh. Second, when we say “tragedy” and “distance,” we’re talking in very loose and general terms. After all, what may be tragic for some of us may just be a bad hair day for someone else. And there’s a ton of different types of distance: physical, historical, emotional, and so on.

We at Restricted Intelligence deal in tragedies, there’s no way around that. Email hacking, phishing, security breaches… None of these are a source of joy for anybody (except maybe the perpetrator). So how do we make them funny?

That’s where the distance comes in. And it’s where we have to do some balancing and juggling, too. Now, we could set this on Neptune, but who knows how business works on Neptune? We could decrease the distance a bit and hold up a mirror, but that’s hitting a little too close to home, which isn’t funny.

Instead, we split the difference. We make creative stories close enough to the viewer’s experience so they can relate (password issues, phishing scams, BYOD, and so on), but create a context that’s a little further from reality: larger-than-life characters, scam emails that any reasonably intelligent human could pick up on, and the list goes on and on.

Oh, and the one thing that we didn’t mention as part of the Comedy Formula but is absolutely crucial: No one really gets hurt. And by that we mean no one really suffers. Egos may be bruised, careers sullied, but no one gets hurt. It’s like with great slapstick: people fall from buildings, get hit with bricks, step on nails, but they dust themselves off and get back to the story.

So now you know our secret formula. We take the scenarios you’re familiar with, we see how almost cartoon-like characters deal with it, and we make sure there’s no injuries at the end. You and your team, in turn, get to have a laugh and walk away with new tools in your fight to secure and protect your company and your customers’ information.

Just don’t tell our characters. They take this stuff very, very seriously.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Minding Your Business

Funny thing, people.

One minute they’re worried about their personal information and Googling “Facebook privacy” or “Instagram government surveillance” and the next minute they’re posting photographs from the bachelor party in Las Vegas or video from their tequila drinking competitions. Privacy is a hot topic not just in the business world, but in our culture at large. People seem more than willing to post just about anything, until they sense their content is being seen by someone they hadn’t expected to look.

For businesses, the issue cuts both way: we must be mindful of what we post from the office or from a business device and we must also be mindful of our customer’s sensitive information, too.

Privacy has become a very public topic.

Which is why we’ve created a special series dedicated to the subject of privacy. And, ironically, we’re hoping everyone gets to see our very privacy series. To kick off the series, we introduce the ironically titled “Nothing to Do With Me.” In it, Lionel complains about his participation in a meeting he swears has nothing to do with him. Spoiler alert: It has everything to do with him.

This first episode also marks the return of series four vendor Mia and introduces a new character, the savvy new head of Privacy, Anya. Plus, everyone’s favorite IT manager, Ian, makes a typically awkward appearance.

The second episode, “Nobody Reads That Stuff,” finds Mia seeking advice on the nuances of the Terms and Conditions document. It seems that Jack and Lionel have some ideas concerning data gathered from customers – ways of taking advantage of the data that could mean big sales for the company, but ways that could be disastrous for the company’s reputation.

But who would find out since nobody reads that stuff, right?

In a nutshell, the episode is an awful lot like the scene in “Jurassic Park” when Dr. Ian Malcom declares, “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.” Except in this case, it’s not scientists. And also our dinosaurs aren’t so scary. It’s the consequences you should be afraid of.

Whether it’s medical information or new tattoo photography, people have a right to control their personal information. And we in leadership have a responsibility to guide our teams through the proper use of information, both their own and the customer’s. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for anything to happen within your own organization to learn about the consequences. We can tell you about Lionel’s experience.

And we won’t spare any details.

Want a sneak peek? Check out the series trailer!

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Use Your Parental Controls

As many of you know, we have produced a line of videos to teach parents how to safely steer their children through the oft risky online world. And because we’re serious about the issue (as well as being remarkably generous), we’re giving the series away for free.

So far, we’ve covered Facebook, YouTube, and Google – sites which may seem innocuous enough, but can prove quite troublesome when young ones are left to navigate them unattended. But one need not look very far to see there are security issues everywhere. Take for example this story about a security breach involving everyone’s favorite blocky distraction, Minecraft.

It would appear our work is not quite finished. And we’d love to continue producing these videos. So we’ll pose the question to you: what applications concern you most? Are you curious about Snapchat? Do you have Twitter concerns? Tell us (by emailing Katie or Jess) about what sorts of challenges you face as parents. We’d like to start the discussion that will ultimately lead to more and more families creating cultures of security in their homes.

Granted, when it comes to technology, kids are so far ahead of most of us that we often consider them our first line of tech support. In fact, we just learned from our kids that this big gray button on our keyboard is called a “trackpad” and helps us navigate throughout our computers and also through “cyberspace”!

But when it comes to protecting them from potentially harmful sites and activities, there’s a lot more all of us can do. And it starts with training.

Check out our series here. And if you have trouble using the link, ask a kid for help.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Podcast Episode #3 - Cyber Security Month Special

Breaking with our usual schedule, we decided to put out a special episode of our podcast in honour of Cyber Security Month! This time Jim and Rob run through the details of the episode of Restricted Intelligence that we are giving away for free and that you can download right now (but only until the end of October - so don't miss out)!

We are also joined by Restricted Intelligence early adopter Arnold Felberbaum of Reed Elsevier, to talk about rolling out the series to a huge global enterprise. His experiences are an invaluable reference point for anyone on the brink of launching their first series, with great tips and suggestions on how to get the most out of the campaign.

Earlier this year Our Glorious & Honoured Leaders Jim & Rob also attended the World Domination Summit in Portland and got to sit down and interview Marsha Shandur, the business and networking genius behind Yes Yes Marsha.

What lies behind that Play button is a fascinating discussion about storytelling in business, and how there’s no better tool for marketing and networking. Marsha, Rob & Jim discuss;

      How people ONLY make decisions based on emotions

      How stories activate the limbic systems and instantly trigger people’s emotions - a story makes the listening feel as if they are IN the story

      The biggest mistakes in storytelling - what are they and how to avoid them

The interview contains a whole wealth of insights from one of the top names in networking. It’s an invaluable conversation that you should eavesdrop on right away!

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to our podcast at the links below. We hope you enjoy it!

iTunes Subscribe link;

Soundcloud Subscribe link;

Friday, 7 October 2016

Stories Ripped From Today’s Headlines

There’s an old Monty Python sketch wherein a self defense instructor teaches students how to defend themselves against attackers wielding a slew of different weapons. Weapons like passion fruit, oranges, apples, grapefruit (whole and segmented), pomegranates… The list of “weapons” goes on and on.

The students, of course, are more concerned with real life scenarios, like an attacker brandishing a pointed stick. The solutions to these vicious fruit-filled attacks are just as ludicrous, including a 16-ton weight expected to fall magically from wherever one might be attacked.

And while we sit back and laugh, don’t we train our teams in the same fashion when we subject them to lengthy PowerPoint presentations and lectures? Sure, we use imposing fonts and maybe even throw in a skull and crossbones, but in the end we’re teaching through abstraction. In other words, we’re telling, not showing.

“These transgressions are very, very, very serious,” you might bellow to a mostly awake roomful of employees. “And this 20-year old stock photo of a frustrated guy in a suit rending his garments is all the proof you need!”

Which is why we create stories “ripped from today’s headlines.” Take for example “Tuesdays With Bernie” episode 1, series 1, “You Just Might Learn Something.” It’s our pilot episode and introduces us to Simon, who’s been “volunteered” to visit former employee and former free citizen Bernie in prison in an effort to make Bernie feel like he hasn’t been forgotten by the firm they both work for.

On his first visit, Simon learns about prison ethics, the greatest oxymoron since “jumbo shrimp.” Or the lack therein. Simon watches in horror as Bernie manipulates the prison market in order to boost his own personal stock amongst the other inmates and guards. A shrewd business tactic, to be sure, but only for business done behind bars.

The astute viewer, however, will recognize this as a case of spoofing. Not because the astute viewer has been keeping up on compliance issues, but because the astute viewer has probably been paying attention to the news and knows a US court has sent a spoofer to prison for five years; the first such conviction under America’s tough new regime. Roughly the same amount of time our friend Bernie will serve in “Tuesdays With Bernie.”

Even if the viewer is not so astute, this episode will help your team learn the difference between permissible trading activities and spoofing. Discussing the true life case will provide further reasons not to spoof the market – up to ten reasons (or just five reasons with good behavior), to be exact.

In matters of compliance, it is somewhat difficult to lead by example or provide hands on experience. But seeing dramatic and hilarious compliance violations on screen and the consequences of these violations in the headline may be just the 16-ton weight your team will ever need to practice ethical and legal trading in your office.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Happy Cyber Security Awareness Month!

It’s Almost Cyber Security Awareness Month!

When you think October, what comes to mind? Ok, other than Halloween, which, yes, granted, is fun but what else comes to mind? Yes, you’re right, cooler temperatures are nice. But think for a second: October. What comes to mind? Close, but “pre-November” isn’t really a thing. One last chance…

Nothing? Ok, here’s a hint: It rhymes with Schmyber Schmecurity…

Ok, never mind, October is Cyber Security Awareness Month.

We’re a little disappointed it wasn’t the first thing to come to mind, so to prevent this from happening in the future we’re offering a free episode of “Restricted Intelligence”. That should plant this most revered of months deep in your psyche.

And because we’re feeling downright jubilant, we’re not just offering any episode. Oh no. We’re giving away (through the month of October) “We Could Be Heroes”, the grand finale from our most recent series. The episode is all about suspicious public Wi-Fi spots. You know the episode. The one where Ian is handing out flyers telling people to be careful about those Wi-Fi spots, then finds out Chloe is using one of these said Wi-Fi spots? Remember? No? Oh, you will.

So send us a message (to and we’ll send you the credentials so you can check out this crowning achievement in the “Restricted Intelligence” canon.

Now, we’re no fortune tellers, but we’re going to make a little prediction. We predict you’re going to watch this episode and you’ll be inspired to share it. And we predict you’ll share it with your colleagues and your team. Then, once they’ve seen it, they’re going to say something along the lines of, “After watching this one incredibly well acted, well produced, hysterically funny episode, I am more aware about cyber security issues than ever before. Why have you subjected us to slide after slide of those ridiculous PowerPoint presentations with the lousy clip art and the swooshy things? Where do swooshy things exist in nature? Mutiny! Mutiny!”

We trust you’ll take the appropriate anti-mutiny actions to save everyone a lot of pain and anguish.

Enjoy a free episode of “Restricted Intelligence” on us. Drop us a line and we’ll send you the specifics so you can properly celebrate Cyber Security Awareness Month.

If you find yourself catching “Infosec Fever”, there’s plenty you can do to help promote Cyber Security Awareness Month, too. Check out the US Department of Homeland Security site where you’ll find tons of information and resources that you can share with your team, colleagues, and coworkers.

Happy Cyber Security Awareness Month!

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

This just in: “Bernie” has escaped

“Bernie,” of “Tuesdays With Bernie” fame, was last seen leaving the cozy confines of his home for 3 to 5 years and headed west. And while most fugitives who find themselves “freshly sprung” would be described as “at large,” we know exactly where Bernie is headed and when he’ll get there: Bernie is headed for the 15th Annual Compliance and Ethics Institute in Chicago, September 25 – 28.

“Oh! He must be headed to Chicago to try to convert otherwise well-meaning compliance and ethics proponents and recruit them into his army of evil,” he might be saying.

You would not be completely wrong.

You see, Bernie or, more accurately, his producers, have escaped their humble prison home and headed to Chicago to do some converting and recruiting. But they’re more interested in convincing otherwise well-meaning compliance and ethics proponents away from traditional boring training programs to try a program that relies on a device many in compliance thought off limits.

The sitcom!

That’s right. Bernie wants to teach you and your team about bribery and corruption awareness through the miracle of the sitcom. So instead of the never-ending PowerPoint presentation, we prefer to hold an ever-so-slightly skewed mirror up to the common workplace, using recognizable character types and situations to make a point and an impression.

“Sounds unorthodox!” you might be saying. “Is Bernie armed and dangerous?”

Then we would respond, “Yes, he is armed – with information and hilarity!”

You would of course roll your eyes, but then you’d play along since we’re obviously not going anywhere and you’d say, “What should I do if I see this Bernie? Run off and contact the authorities?”

And then we’d drop the ruse and say (spoiler alert), “He’s not really a criminal. He’s just a character in this compliance training program that’s really funny. In fact, we want you to approach us, introduce yourself, and tell us about some of the issues you’re having in creating an office culture where compliance and ethics are almost second nature. Where bribery and corruption awareness are encouraged and, dare we say, not viewed as the dull and dry obligations they are today.”

Look, we don’t get out much. In fact, this is Bernie’s first time out in the real world. We’d love to show you what we’ve got, how it works, and why compliance and ethics training should matter to you. It’ll be the most pleasant, professional, and focused conversation you will ever have a crook.

Now, if you’ll excuse us, Bernie’s flight leaves soon and we still have to bake a cake with a file in it. In the meantime, you should plan to meet us at the 15th Annual Compliance and Ethics Institute in Chicago. Not going? Perhaps you should. It could save you some trouble in the long run.