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Social media is no longer confined to the Internet. It lives in our everyday lives – at home, and even in the work environment. As you may have heard by now, some employers are trying to take the integration of social media and the workplace a little too far.

The Ultimate Invasion of Privacy

According to a recent report from the Associated Press, more companies in both the public and private sectors are asking job candidates to hand over the username and password to their precious Facebook account during the interview process. While these credentials are not necessarily as sensitive as the login ID and password to a consumer’s online banking account, they are private, and the fact that employers are increasingly considering this a requirement is an alarming trend no matter how you look at it.

Spectators are not taking this matter lightly, and neither are lawmakers. In fact, a pair of U.S. Senators recently asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Justice to look into the issue to determine whether these appalling employer practices violate any laws on a federal level. Furthermore, lawmakers in individual states are reportedly devising bills to ensure that the same practices do not violate local laws. The fact that both federal and state government oppose to employers requesting interviewees to share their Facebook login details is encouraging, but this battle appears to be far from over.

While asking consumers for their password definitely hinges on the edge of unethical, whether or not it is actually illegal is something that is unclear at this point. In the end, its true legality may boil down to whether it is considered an analog of running criminal background checks, credit checks, and other practices employers are currently allowed to use. Still, it is hard to believe that asking someone to willingly part with information that lets someone into their personal communications, on a stage that is likely to be more socially-driven than work related, would stand up in any court of law.

Facebook Weighs In

So where does Facebook stand on the matter of companies trying to muscle job candidates out of their password? On the side of its massive user community. An executive from the company responded to the issue by cautioning employers not to request this information. To be more specific, the exec warned that job applicants are protected by anti-discrimination laws that could leave an organization vulnerable to discrimination claims should they not hire the individual in question. This is an excellent point seeing how race, gender, and other basic profile information has been the basis of discrimination claims in the workplace for years.

The bottom line is that when it comes to interviewing for a position, no individual should have to fork over passwords to any personal accounts they own – be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other internet site. If a company blatantly ignores proven screening practices and is willingly to stoop to that level of investigating, what other lines would they be willing to cross?

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You’ll Never Be #1, Nor Should You Try To Be…


As a culture, especially in America, we like to rank things. There’s top 10 lists of all sorts, competitions to determine who’s the best in a given category and even outside of these so-called competitions, people and companies claim to be “the best” or “number one.” Here’s a question for you? How can there be millions of “the world’s best pizza” pizzarias? There can’t. Deep down, I think we all understand that it’s a marketing ploy by all those restaurants. But then, how do you know if someone is number one? More importantly, does it even matter? I say not. Stay with me to find out why.

First off, I want you to know that many of the concepts I’m sharing here are from a thinker I admire more and more every day, and that’s Simon Sinek. He recently came out with a book called The Infinite Game, which I encourage you to check out. I got introduced to his thinking about 10 months ago via a podcast and his words shifted my thinking dramatically. And I hope you’ll have the same epiphanies now as I did almost a year ago.

The core of what Simon teaches is that there’s two types of games. Finite and infinite. Most of us are familiar with finite games. A game of baseball is a finite game. A sport’s league constitutes as a finite game. The hot dog eating contest at your local fair counts. What each of these have in common is that there are set rules, players, objectives and timelines that are agreed upon by everyone. Pretty much any sport of competition is an example of a finite game, as long as it meets that criteria. And I’ll be the first to admit, I love sports and more specifically, sports metaphors. However, there’s one flaw with sports analogies and that’s the fact that they’re finite and not infinite. 

The difference between a finite game vs an infinite game is that in an infinite game there’s unknown rules, players, objectives and timelines because no one has agreed upon them. No one wins in business. Business, like politics, is an infinite game. The sole objective of the game is to keep playing. How do you keep playing? You keep improving over time. 

A huge problem with our society, in business and in politics, is that we have leaders who don’t know the game they’re playing. They’re viewing things from a finite perspective. It’s most evident in phrases such as “we’re number one” or “we’re the best.” No they’re not. According to who’s definition? 

Let’s examine a company that played by finite rational in an infinite game. Remember Blockbuster? In case you don’t, it was a movie rental company. It was a household name and was poised to be Netflix by entering the streaming game in the 2000s. One executive certainly wanted that but his board disagreed. With the benefit of hindsight, you might be wondering how could that be? It’s because at the time late fees accounted for 12% of profits for Blockbuster. By switching to streaming, they’d lose out on that revenue because there’d be no DVDs to have to return. That 12% lose would only be temporary, as Netflix has shown, but something the Blockbuster board was unwilling to let go of. And long story short, they’re out of business. 

When you think about it, it’s no coincidence that this happens to companies. Why is it that taxi companies didn’t invent Uber? Or why haven’t hotels created AirBnB? It’s because companies are too concerned with maintaining the status quo, wrongfully thinking that it’ll preserve their dominance. That’s an example of finite thinking in an infinite game. 

Here’s a concrete example of someone who exercises existential flexibility—Steve Jobs. Apple was almost ready to release their computers when Jobs met up with some people who showed him a graphic interface. Immediately he went back to his team and said they needed to jump on that and make it part of their product. Many people told him it was impossible and that’d they’d not only miss the deadline but bankrupt the company. Steve said, “Better us than someone else.” 

The rest as they say is history. That decision changed the computer industry and technology landscape as we know it. Steve wasn’t concerned with the short term. He had a mission, or mindset if you want to call it that, for Apple to develop user friendly products to their customers to make their lives easier and better. That value still holds today and is one that doesn’t have an end. It’s ongoing. Hence, it’s part of the infinite game where the objective is to keep going, improving, developing, etc.  

So how come there’s so much discourse around us about being the best and so forth? Well, because as I mentioned, many people in high up positions aren’t aware of the game they’re playing. By definition, finite games are easier to understand and thus they’re perpetuated through sports metaphors and culture in general. Consider a song like Nelly’s “Number 1.” It’s a catchy tune that makes you feel good. But that’s because as a society we’re tried to simplify what success is and how it should be defined for people. This is bullshit. You’ll never be #1, nor should you want to be. Keep playing the game aka keep making content. When you do that, you’re successful.

In the past I’ve described the entertainment industry as a shaking tree. As long as you can hang on to that tree, you’ll do well. That’s a great analogy for the infinite game and while I may have talked about the infinite game primarily in terms of companies, this principle applies equally to us as individuals. The infinite game mindset is a lifestyle. By thinking and acting in these terms, you won’t be trying to shove a square peg in a round hole which means you won’t be as stressed out. I certainly shed a lot of anxiety once I learned about the infinite game. This is because I stopped putting so much pressure on the short term gains and focused on my long term goals and objectives. I had a mission for myself and that’s my guiding light every day. And when I see something that can help me achieve my mission easier, faster, smoother or perhaps better… well then I embrace it. Social media is an example of this. Rather than think of social media as good or bad, it is a tool which I use to help reach, inspire and teach people along with the other tools and tactics at my disposal. That’s the way you need to see it. 

The other way in which making the shift to an infinite mindset helps you is that you’ll stop being jealous of people. When you’re so desperate to be #1 you become vicious in your pursuits. It’s why there’s stereotypes about the LA lifestyle of people being overly narcissistic. Mind you, this is an upward trend throughout the country but it just happens to be more easily noticeable in artists. The point being though, you’ll no longer see people as threats. They may be your rivals but a rival is good. A rival is like a mirror that showcases your weaknesses so you can adjust and grow. Remember, the goal is to stay in the game. You can’t stay in the game if you don’t improve. 

Look at it from this perspective: over the next decade along, the ways in which we create and consume content will change drastically many times over. You need to be able to keep up. If you view it with finite terms, such as “I know how to do x, y and z and I’m great at those,” you’ll eventually be blindsided because a shift will happen sooner or later and you’ll have made yourself obsolete. Be a constant learner. That’s really what the infinite game is all about. 

Here’s where it gets trippy, at least to some people. The infinite game, aka your life or career, is comprised of finite games. Plainly stated, it means you should have deadlines for yourself. The difference is don’t beat yourself up if you miss a certain deadline. For example, my goal has been to write a novel and when I began the process I obviously had written nothing, hence I created timelines of when I wanted things to be done by. Boy, was I off on those. But, by doing that, it propelled me to knuckle down and get to work. Now I’m in the final phase of the novel! So do the same. Set deadlines… but don’t be harsh on yourself if you miss them because you’re still better off than when you began, right? And in the words of Obama, “better is good.” Simon Sinek thinks so. And I agree. 

How To Lock An App With A Password In Windows 11

Do you have an app you don’t want anybody to be able to open without your permission? Whether it’s for the sake of your kids or clueless family or friends, there are several methods to restrict others from being able to access the app. This short guide will show you how to lock an app with a password in Windows 11.

If another user has a separated user account in the same Windows PC, you can restrict access to a certain folder so that any executable file (of the app) in the folder will not be visible or accessible to the user. To learn how to restrict access to app, file or folder in Windows 11, go to: How to Restrict User Access to a Folder or Drive in Windows 11.

If you only have one user account on your PC and you share the same user account with other people, use the method below to lock an app with a password in Windows 11.

How to password protect an app in Windows 11

Since there is no built-in feature that allows you to password protect an app, folder or file in Windows, we will have to rely on a third party tool to do so. We recommend My Lockbox.

My Lockbox is a simple tool that is able to lock an entire folder with a password set by you. Any file in the locked folder cannot be opened without first unlocking the folder with your set password.

Here’s an example of how to set up My Lockbox to lock an app with password on Windows 11.

First, download and install My Lockbox.

Once installed, open My Lockbox. The first time you open the program, it will prompt you to specify a password you want to use with the program. You need to enter a password twice, a hint to remind yourself about the password should you forget it, and an email address for password recovery if you lose your password in the future.

Once the folder is locked, when you try to open an app (via desktop shortcut, Start menu or anywhere else) that is located in the folder you’ve locked, Windows 11 will show an error that says “The item referred to by this shortcut cannot be accessed. You may not have the appropriate permissions.”

To unlock the folder so that you can launch the app again, open My Lockbox and enter your password. Then, open the app again.

My Lockbox free version allows you to lock only 1 folder. To lock more folders, you will need to pay for a subscription or purchase the software. Tip: You can try to put all the apps and files you want to lock in a single folder and lock only that particular folder. It will still be able to lock all files and subfolders within that particular folder you select to lock.

For example, you can create a folder such as “C:Personal“, and install all the apps (or change the installation location) you want lock onto this folder. Then, use My Lockbox to lock this folder to lock all the apps installed in this particular folder.

Just Ask: Strategies For Building Community Partnerships

A public audience is a crucial component not only for a PBL project, but also for authentic and relevant learning. We know that the quality of student work increases when we have students share their work with an audience outside of the classroom. We also know that it can help keep students accountable in getting the work done. While it’s powerful to bring in the experts at the end of a unit or project, having them there along the way is helpful in providing authentic feedback. Of course, bringing an outside audience into your classroom can be a challenge — not to mention finding them first. Edutopia recently updated its Building Community Partnerships resource roundup, which includes some great videos, blogs, and ideas on how to connect with members of the community in different ways. Here are some further strategies you might consider.

Just Ask

I know it may seem simple, but just ask! Sometimes there is a strange fear associated with asking. Yes, it can be a little awkward to reach out and connect with someone outside of the classroom, but we need to be willing to take the risk. The worst answer you’ll get is, “No.” The best answer could be, “Sure, and let me bring in 20 of my colleagues!” You never know what the possibilities might be. In fact, many businesses and organizations require that their members spend time doing community service or even specifically volunteering in a school. Start early — the sooner you think you might need an audience, the sooner you should contact that potential audience member.

Ask Parents About Their Work and Lives

Parents are critical partners in learning, and they are also experts in their own right. One strategy I have employed is to send a quick survey home to parents asking them, “What do you do in your work or career?” and “What are some of your hobbies or other areas of expertise?” This gives me a list of parents that have at least two areas of expertise I can address. In fact, the more teachers in my building who ask, the more experts I have on my list. I encourage you to build a comprehensive list at the grade or school level. This list can be organized and curated by a teacher leader or even a parent community liaison.

Be Specific

Instead of asking parents or community members if they can come in on a certain day, be more specific. Tell parents and experts exactly what you would like them to do. Do you want them to provide feedback? Do you want them to ask questions to probe student thinking? Both? Either way, having very specific tasks and objectives for these community partners is crucial to making their connection not only more valuable, but also more meaningful. Provide a rubric or give them questions or prompts to drive feedback. Don’t forget to give them a context for the visit. Also, offer time slots to make it more possible for a visit to occur. It’s much easier to find an hour or two, rather than a full day. Instead of asking, “Can you come on Friday the 8th?” say, “I have six 30-minute time slots where I’d like to have students receive feedback. Are you available for any of these times?”

Use Technology

Technology can be used to make the walls of the classroom and school more permeable by way of virtual visits and meetings. Use message boards and blogs to get feedback as formative assessment from experts. Record videos from experts and from students, and exchange asynchronously if you are having trouble scheduling synchronous time. Skype is another tool that you can use to get experts into your classroom virtually. If you aren’t able to visit the expert or parent at their workplace, then consider a virtual field trip. Even with minimal technology, teachers can connect with people outside of the classroom.

Have Experts Ask Their Colleagues

In your request to experts and parents, ask them to ask their colleagues at work. When one teacher was looking for a subject matter expert to support a wing design project, he asked his colleagues and got around 20 volunteers. Parents and experts have amazing connections through their friends, spouses, relatives, and colleagues. If you try this, you could build a network of audience members that you never thought possible.

Now, I’m not saying that these strategies will bring every expert or parent that you ask into your classroom, but it can’t hurt to try. In fact, you should be excited even if you get just a few people to support your work. It’s generous of anyone to donate his or her time to support student learning.

What are some of your strategies to bring outside experts and parents into the classroom?

Ecommerce Scams Everyone Should Be Aware Of

The ease and convenience of eCommerce have made it an essential part of our lives. But, with this comes the risks associated with online shopping – cybercriminals are always looking for opportunities to perpetrate fraud. To protect yourself from these scams, familiarize yourself with some of the most common eCommerce scams and how to avoid them.

Fake Shopping Site Scams

One of the popular eCommerce scams people should look out for is fake shopping sites. These types of frauds are designed to steal customer information or money, often pretending to be a valid online shop. For example, the Wayfair scam involved a website that appeared to be an actual and legitimate discount furniture store but was a ruse to extract payment and personal details from unsuspecting customers.

Consumers should always exercise caution when it comes to shopping online. They must ensure they fully vet potential suppliers before providing them with financial details or their credit card information.

Gift Card Scams

Watch out for gift card scams as they become increasingly frequent in the eCommerce industry. Fraudsters craft seemingly legitimate cards at discounted rates to tempt unsuspecting buyers. Make a purchase, however, and you’ll likely get either a counterfeit or absolutely nothing in return.

As a precaution against gift card scams, always obtain your cards from reliable sources. This includes the retailer’s official website or eCommerce site you are looking to purchase from. Also, avoid any discounted offers, as these could be counterfeit items. Furthermore, never give out personal information when purchasing gift cards because legitimate businesses usually do not need such data.

Counterfeit Products

The eCommerce industry is facing a dangerous rise in counterfeit products. Fraudsters are creating knock-off versions of legitimate goods and selling them online at discounted prices. Despite their convincing exterior, these counterfeits usually lack quality and can be hazardous to your health or safety.

Shield yourself from counterfeit products, and only purchase items through trusted sources. Investigate the reviews and responses of previous customers, then research meticulously to confirm that the product you are purchasing is genuine. Please exercise caution when looking at goods sold for an unusually low price since they could be imitations.

Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are one of online criminals’ most frequently used tactics. These fraudsters erect fake websites that imitate legitimate eCommerce sites to acquire personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. Furthermore, they might transmit emails with links or act like real businesses to extract sensitive data from you. By being vigilant and aware of these dangers, we can safeguard ourselves against phishing attacks.

Fake Shipping and Delivery Notifications Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks are menacing online scams that use phishing emails or counterfeit eCommerce sites to gain access and install malicious software, locking you out of your device or files until the ransom is paid. This puts companies – small and large – at risk for complete data loss with no recourse but to pay up if they want their information restored.

To protect yourself from ransomware threats, ensure that all your applications are up-to-date and utilize anti-malware and antivirus software. Furthermore, be wary of any emails or messages sent by unfamiliar sources – do not open links or attachments if they seem suspicious in the least bit! By following these simple tips, you can easily secure yourself against potential hackers.


The Questions You Should Be Asking References

Employers conduct reference checks by contacting a job candidate’s professional and personal connections. The goal is to better understand the candidate’s skills, qualifications and demeanor.

Your reference check questions should discern whether a candidate would fit in at your company. They cannot pertain to your candidate’s personal information.

Your company should develop a process to ensure consistency among all reference checks and determine which questions to ask references.

This article is for business owners and hiring managers who are planning to conduct reference checks for prospective employees.

A job candidate may ace the interview, but that doesn’t always make them a perfect hire. You can better understand an applicant’s compatibility with your company by checking their references, especially if you ask the right questions. We’ll share 32 reference check questions that focus on a candidate’s performance and what it was like to manage and work alongside them. These questions can help ensure a successful hire and a valuable new team member.

What is a reference check?

A reference check is when an employer reaches out to people who can shed light on a job candidate’s strengths and speak to their qualifications. These contacts tend to be previous employers but also may include university professors, longtime colleagues and other people familiar with the applicant’s work. 

As an employer, you may find that reference checks help paint a full picture of a potential hire. Unfortunately, people lie on their resumes sometimes and present qualifications they don’t actually possess. If you ask your applicant’s professional references the right questions, you’ll learn more about the candidate’s skills and qualifications than you would from a traditional job interview alone.

Reference check goals include the following: 

Confirm the written or verbal information the potential employee provided.

Learn about the candidate’s skills and strengths from someone other than the candidate.

Gather information about the applicant’s job performance in past roles to predict their success at your company.

With all of this information, you should have an easier time choosing which candidates to move forward in the hiring process.

Did You Know?

Reference checks can help you avoid hiring horror stories and costly personnel and management headaches.

What information should you ask a reference?

When developing your list of reference check questions, you should determine the information you want to confirm about the job candidate. You may be interested in the references’ insights about the candidate on these topics:

Job performance

Ability to understand and follow directions

Ability to work well as part of a team

Standards for office behavior and ethics

Interests, specialties and demeanor

Ability to give directions and ensure that subordinates follow them (if they’re applying for a leadership role)

Anything else that stands out on the candidate’s resume or emerged during their job interview

Some of these topics are more appropriate to discuss with professional references; others may be more suitable to ask personal references. For example, a former supervisor can speak to how well a candidate operates as part of a team, while a close friend or mentor can describe the candidate’s interests, specialties and demeanor.

Just as there are specific questions you should never ask a job candidate, there are questions you can’t ask a reference. You must only ask questions that pertain to the job; inappropriate questions can subject your company to discrimination claims. 

Consider the following problematic questions you should never ask references:

Anything related to demographics or personal information: Don’t ask about a candidate’s sexuality, age, religion or similar matters.

Anything related to personal health: Don’t ask about a candidate’s medical history or the existence of disabilities. You can ask whether the candidate is capable of performing the tasks the job requires.

Anything related to credit scores: Although you can request a credit score from a job applicant, the Fair Credit Reporting Act bars you from asking references about an applicant’s credit score.

Anything related to family: Don’t ask whether a candidate has (or plans to have) children or a spouse. If you worry that a job applicant with a family might not have enough time for the job, ask references if they think the job’s time demands will suit the candidate.


Gathering references is an important step to ensuring you make the best hiring decisions for your vacant positions. Check out these other tips for hiring the best employees to build your team as effectively as possible.

32 reference check questions to ask

Now that you know what information to request from a reference, you’re ready to develop your list of reference check questions. Below are 32 common reference check questions to use. You may think some don’t apply to your company, but you should speak with your hiring manager before eliminating any questions.

Introductory reference check questions

Is there any information you and/or your company are unwilling or unable to give me about the candidate?

If you can’t share any information with me, can you connect me with any former employees who worked closely with the candidate?

Can you confirm the candidate’s employment start and end dates, salary and job title?

What is your relationship to the candidate, and how did you first meet?

Reference check questions for getting to know the reference

For how long have you worked at your company?

For how long have you had your current job title?

For how long did you work with the candidate, and in what capacities?

Can you think of any reasons I should be speaking with another reference instead of yourself?

Performance-related reference check questions

What positions did the candidate have while at your company?

In what roles did the candidate start and end?

What did these roles entail?

What were the most challenging parts of the candidate’s roles at your company?

How did the candidate face these challenges and other obstacles?

What are the candidate’s professional strengths, and how did they benefit your company?

In what areas does the candidate need improvement?

Do you think the candidate is qualified for this job, and why or why not?

Reference check questions to ask managers

For how long did you directly or indirectly manage the candidate?

In what ways was managing the candidate easy, and in what ways was it challenging?

How did the candidate grow during their time working under you?

What suggestions do you have for managing this candidate?

Reference check questions to ask employees who reported to your candidate

For how long did the candidate manage you, and in what capacity?

What did you like most and least about the candidate’s management style?

How did the candidate’s management style help you grow and learn?

How could the candidate have better managed you and your co-workers?

Reference check questions to ask co-workers

For how long were you among the candidate’s colleagues, and in what capacity?

What did you like most and least about working with the candidate?

How did you grow and learn while working with the candidate?

How did the candidate support you and your other colleagues?

In what ways could the candidate have been a better co-worker to you and your colleagues?

Reference check questions about ethics and behavior

Why did the candidate leave your company?

Did this candidate’s behavior lead to any workplace conflicts or instances of questionable ethics?

If the opportunity arose, would you be willing and/or able to rehire the candidate, and why or why not?

Just as you can speak with your hiring manager about potentially removing certain questions from this list, you can discuss adding other questions. As long as any additional questions shed light on how your candidate would perform during employment with your company and you don’t ask for personal information, there’s a good chance you’re asking the right questions.

Did You Know?

Some candidates may need more scrutiny than others. Some employers conduct background checks to verify job candidates and their credentials.

How to conduct a reference check

If you decide to check references for new hires, implement a formal procedure at your company. This will streamline the process of obtaining your candidates’ references. From start to finish, your hiring team should follow these steps to conduct a thorough reference check:

Decide how many references to obtain from each applicant. Two or three should suffice.

Include a section for references in every job application. Ask candidates to include their references’ full names, phone numbers, email addresses and relationship to the candidate.

Get permission to contact the reference. Include a clause in your job application that the applicant signs to give you permission to contact their references. You should also email a reference to get their permission to ask them questions about the candidate.

Decide whether you’ll conduct your reference checks by phone or email. While sending questions by email will save your company time — especially if you have a standard list of questions you send to all references — verbal checks via phone or video chat, or even in-person meetings, can offer you a clearer understanding of a candidate.

Develop a list of reference check questions. Consider the list above to determine potential questions.

Watch out for red flags. Not every candidate is entirely truthful on their resume, so do your research before contacting a reference.

Establish a standard note-taking process. Don’t expect to remember every single thing you discussed during a reference check. Work with your hiring team to develop a note-taking format and process the whole team can understand and use.


If an employer discovers that a job candidate misrepresented their qualifications or lied on their resume, they can rescind the job offer.

Reference checks help employers make good hiring decisions

Reference checks give you a chance to fill gaps that arise while you’re getting to know a candidate during the interview process. Talking to an applicant’s personal references can tell you if they’re the right fit and help you avoid a costly bad hire. By allowing you to discover the candidate’s management style or determining how they’ll respond under pressure, reference checks can tell you much more than an interview alone. 

Once you’ve conducted reference checks on all of your job candidates, you should have all of the information you need to decide which one is best for the job and reach out with a formal job offer letter. If the candidate accepts, congratulate them and yourself — and start your onboarding process.

Natalie Hamingson contributed to this article.

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