July 15, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Century City Women’s Business Council gears professionals with tools for self-defense, disaster readiness

From left: Doug Williams, chief information officer of Williams Data Management; McDonald, founder of Financially Wed; Jarrett Arthur, founder of M.A.M.A.; and Martin Fellbaum, branch manager at Universal Protection Services sit on the panel for “In Your Defense: Protecting Your Identity, Finances and Self,” hosted by the Women’s Business Council of the Century City Chamber of Commerce.
From left: Doug Williams, chief information officer of Williams Data Management; McDonald, founder of Financially Wed; Jarrett Arthur, founder of M.A.M.A.; and Martin Fellbaum, branch manager at Universal Protection Services sit on the panel for “In Your Defense: Protecting Your Identity, Finances and Self,” hosted by the Women’s Business Council of the Century City Chamber of Commerce.

Cyberattacks, earthquakes, and random violence. These topics, in the headlines regularly, serve as cogent reminders to people that data, personal and financial safety is at constant risk in the Internet Age.

The Women’s Business Council of the Century City Chamber of Commerce opened up their panel, “In Your Defense: Protecting Your Identity, Finances and Self,” to address these topics with a singular theme: planning and training for the worst.

“Because if you’re prepared for the worst, it doesn’t come,” said Elizabeth McDonald, one of the panelists at the May 13 discussion at Seasons 52 at Westfield Century City.

Drawing from four esteemed professionals, the Women’s Business Council invited businesslike women and men around Los Angeles to learn more about safeguarding themselves and their work from disaster to assault to taxes.

Doug Williams, chief information officer of Williams Data Management; McDonald, founder of Financially Wed; Jarrett Arthur, founder of M.A.M.A.; and Martin Fellbaum, branch manager at Universal Protection Services created a remedies for today’s safety and security anxieties with their tips for planning ahead, no matter the setback.

Jumpstarting the talk, Williams drew on his own work of helping Southern California businesses protect data records and information to offer solutions for people to put in place that day.

Because privacy, he said, is a thing of the past, he wanted everyone to realize and internalize that fact as the first step to protection.

“Every time you use a credit card, every time you go online, every time you use your cell phone, every time you’re driving down the street in a vehicle that has GPS, cell phone, Bluetooth, recognize that you’re being tracked,” Williams said.

The first recommendation he had was to change all passwords if people hadn’t done so in the last 30 days. The same went for credit cards and credit card numbers, “and interrupt the cycle of your credit information and your credit card number and credit card accounts being subject to a breach,” he explained.

Next, he wanted those to know that the more purchasing clubs they were apart of, like Von’s Club or Ralphs Rewards, the more spending habits and thus data is being tracked and sold to marketers and spammers.

“That data gets sold, that’s why you get emails,” Williams said.

But don’t open or click inside those emails, he warned, as they are rife with cookies to send notifications to servers and record your Internet activity.

He said about 45 to 47 percent of emails right now are emails that go out on behalf of retailers are spammed emails.

“Be aware of the tricks of the trade,” Williams said. “Be aware that there are ways to at least curb the ability of marketers to get to you and marketers to get to your purchasing habits.”

Finally, Williams suggested small tweaks in behavior that could make all the difference in stopping unwanted emails or even a data breach: pick the smallest amount of credit cards, purchasing clubs and posts to social media. And don’t forget to change those passwords and shred hard drives.

Elizabeth McDonald piggybacked off Williams’ system of stalwart strategy with her five-tiered financial plan. Her company, Financially Wed, educates couples about their money through “kitchen table” style moderations, without the awkwardness or tension.

“One of the reasons that I started Financially Wed is that I used to see couples struggle with it,” McDonald said as her previous role in the wedding industry. “It’s not so much the actualities of their finances, it’s how to have the conversation.”

She then surveyed the room: “How many people really know how their 401(k) works?” A couple of hands surfaced.

“How many people in this room are comfortable with retiring at the age they’d like to retire?” With some laughter in the room, a few more hands raised.

“In case anyone feels embarrassed that you’re not where you want to be, you heard that response,” McDonald said. “Stop feeling embarrassed, and take the step to find out. Find out what you need to do. If you don’t know how money works, you know why? No one gets taught.”

Her big takeaway for that day was for people to learn about how their money works and how it can grow. The first pillar in her financial plan was cash flow.

“It’s basically finding out what you’re spending. Do a money diary. Do a spend diary, at least for one week, commit to it.”

After that was to have an emergency fund, manage debt, accumulate assets for retirement, get life insurance and plan the estate, be it through will, living will or trust.

But what happens when planning doesn’t protect you from a personal blow? Training comes next.

Jarrett Arthur, a petite blonde with a Krav Maga black belt, created M.A.M.A. (Mothers Against Malicious Acts) and customizes self-defense classes for women responsible for the safety of children.

She confessed that there would always be a discrepancy between what people know they should prepare for and what they actually do. She cited denial, ignorance, laziness and inconvenience as the main reasons people never take a self-defense class, though most people will admit that one class would be beneficial.

“My job is not to get you a to a place where you a fearless, because that’s actually pretty dangerous, we want you to retain that fear,” Arthur said. “That difference is how can we get you to a place where you use that fear to create action. In doing so, the fear becomes less anxiety provoking and you’re able to recognize it as a tool to actually be productive and take action steps.”

She broke down the idea of self-defense into what she helps train for: pre-fight and fight. The pre-fight of prevention, avoidance, awareness and boundary setting includes “anything and everything you can do to prevent the physical confrontation from actually taking place and this category prefight is the most important,” she explained.

She advised to keep one’s head up and off of the cellphone, as attackers like to look for those distracted and unaware of surroundings. Identifying exits and options when walking into a place is also useful.

“In that pre-fight environmental awareness is probably the biggest thing you can do.”

When the conflict arises, no matter to what degree, she said it becomes a fight for one’s life, one’s children’s life and one’s family’s life. She teaches in her classes to hit soft areas and to use that one hit, if only one, where it counts. Eyes, nose, groin and neck are her hot spots.

To conclude, Martin Fellbaum, a Certified Protection Professional formerly in the Navy, spoke about workplace violence and emergency preparedness, namely what was on everyone’s minds: earthquakes.

“When you’re thinking about preparedness in your home environment, it doesn’t mean that I scare you today and you run to the army surplus store and spend $500,” he said. “You need to make it part of your daily routine, make it part of your life.”

Food, water and basic First-aid supplies are what you need, he said. “Try to make it at least livable.”

As far as the workplace, Fellbaum advised forming a group in the office to create a kit with essentials, should a disaster strike and one can’t leave the building. For example, fill the bottom filing cabinet drawer, he said.

“The best thing you can have in the business that goes along with that is an AM/FM radio so you can listen to the emergency broadcast station,” Fellbaum said.

With that, Williams snowballed Fellbaum by adding that business protection extends beyond employees.

“If there is a disaster, key people have to know where do they go to keep the business alive,” Williams said. “In 72 hours without information, without transaction, without information flowing back and forth, that business could be out of business. It takes quite a long time to recover.”

For more information about Williams’ data management services, visit williamsdatamanagement.com.

For more information about McDonald’s business, visit financiallywed.com.

For more information about self-defense, visit jarrettarthur.com.

And for more information about emergency preparedness, visit centurycitycc.com/tag/emergency-preparedness.

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