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Core Values: Transparency

Telcion has four core values and behaviors:

• Selflessness – Team before self.
• Work Ethic – Do whatever it takes to get the job done.
• Transparency – Open and honest communication about everything.
Curiosity – A willingness to ask “why?” with a desire to learn new things.

These core values have been tested over many years and they embody Telcion’s culture. Let’s talk through the core value of transparency and why it’s important.   
 
What does it mean to be transparent?  Wikpedia defines it like this:  

“Transparency, as used in science, engineering, business, the humanities and in other social contexts, is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed. Transparency implies openness, communication, and accountability.”

Another way of looking at transparency: not hiding anything. Whether things are good or bad, you openly and honestly convey information as you know it. Your ego is not involved.  It doesn’t matter if it makes you look good or not; you have a desire and willingness to put the information you know out on the table.   

So what does this look like exactly?  Let’s dig into that.  

I’ve been telling people for over 20 years that my life is an open book. You can ask me anything and I will give you a straight answer. You may not always like my answer, but I’ll tell it like I see it.   

What I have found is that the more transparent I am with the people around me, the more trust builds in our relationship. That trust makes it easier for others to share real information, real insights, as to what is going on in any given situation. And when that happens, better decisions are made.   

We all know what it’s like to be in a room with people you don’t trust. If you don’t trust, you aren’t willing to be vulnerable. And if you aren’t willing to be vulnerable, then you aren’t willing to say the things that need to be said for fear of ridicule or judgment. When that’s the case, we have dysfunction on our teams, and that prevents good decisions from being made because the valuable information needed to make good decisions isn’t being shared.  

In my company, I tell our people that they will never be fired or judged for being transparent. I want all the information to be presented, and I want it in a timely manner so that our team can make the best decisions about any given situation. Does that mean that sometimes we are fessing up about our own mistakes? Absolutely. But when I see people do that, my trust and respect for them goes way up because these are people who are willing to set their egos aside for the betterment of the company. 

From my view, we all make mistakes. It’s going to happen. So I might as well accept that fact and just spill the beans.  As a leader I have to be the first one to be transparent, which means I too have to admit my mistakes when they happen. And believe me, they happen more than I’d like. But every time I do this, it builds more trust with the people around me and gives them courage to be transparent too.  
 
When there is no transparency, people aren’t willing to readily share information and aren’t forthcoming. Usually this is done by people who want to maintain some kind of control over their peers or who like the feeling of being the only one who knows certain things.  But this is a finite mindset. It’s very limiting. And there is no place for this individual on the Telcion team.  We’ve all experienced this—there’s that one person on the team who knows the answer, but either won’t readily share it, or hoards the information so they can feel more important. All this does is hinder the team and keep others from performing at their best.   

The interesting thing about being transparent is that it’s not just from a negative perspective, but it also helps from a positive perspective. You have to do it for both though or the trust won’t be built. For example, it’s easy to be transparent when you have good news to share, like when the company is performing well, we are hitting our numbers, reaching our goals, and everyone gets to celebrate. But what if we aren’t hitting the numbers? What if we aren’t accomplishing our goals? What if we performed poorly on a project or lost a deal? Are we still willing to be transparent in order to evaluate, learn, and improve? Trust is built when we are transparent all the time, not just when it’s good news or when it’s convenient.  

In addition to being transparent within our companies it’s also extremely important to be transparent externally with our clients. There is nothing better than a client relationship that is based on transparent dialogue. This creates the opportunity for a long-term, trusting relationship. Imagine telling your clients when you’ve made a mistake or when you don’t agree with them. Most of us fear such things, but when do them it actually makes our clients more loyal and less likely to move to another provider. How do you feel when someone is honest and transparent with you? Do you want to run away or do you trust them with more of your business?  

At Telcion, we value people who hold transparency high in their personal value system.  People who have a desire to share what they know, are willing to be vulnerable, are willing to speak their minds, and have a genuine desire to help others learn from what they know.  They don’t keep information and ideas to themselves. Instead, they care more about getting the right information out than making themselves look good, and they don’t care who was at fault, only that we learn from our mistakes.  As a leader, it’s my job to make sure that we have a healthy environment where this can take place without any fear of retribution.  We often share and celebrate when we see this value being exhibited by anyone on our team.   

Telcion is filled with team members who exhibit transparency, and it’s what makes our company culture great.   

If you want to learn more about how to be transparent I would highly recommend two books: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Getting Naked, both by Patrick Lencioni.  The first is focused on transparency within your company, and the latter is focused on transparency with your clients.  

[This article was contributed by Lance Reid, Telcion's CEO.]
 

Cat6 or Cat6A: Which One Should You Use?

This question comes up all the time. “Should we use Cat6 or Cat6A for our structured cabling plant?” You may have already guessed that the answer, as with most technology decisions, is that it depends. The correct choice for you will depend on your particular application as well as your long-term needs.  

Similarities

  • Both support up to 1gig to 100 meters. 
  • Both support 10gig.  
  • Both support power over ethernet (PoE).  
  • Both have jackets made for different installation needs – such as riser-rated.  
  • Both can be shielded or unshielded.

Differences

  • Cat6A is made with higher tolerances than Cat6.  This means that the twists are tighter to meet higher specifications. This also means the terminations require Cat6A parts.  
  • Cat6A speed is at least 500MHz.  This provides 10gig up to 100 meters.  Cat6 speed is only 250MHz, which only provides 10gig up to half the distance (around 55 meters). 
  • Cat6A uses thicker copper conductors and jackets.  This means it can support higher PoE wattage requirements (up to 100w), but it also makes the installation a bit more difficult which can add cost.

So which should you choose?

  Here are some things to consider: 

  • Will you have a need for 10gig to the desktop in the next 10 years?  
  • What are your PoE requirements going to be in the future? Remember that there are many kinds of IoT devices now that support PoE but require higher wattage. Many devices—including access points, digital signage, video conferencing systems, and laptops—are becoming capable of pulling power from PoE switches.   
  • If your PoE requirements will be going up, then you will want thicker cable to help dissipate the heat and prevent power loss over distance, which Cat6A will provide.

Inside the data center, using either Cat6 or Cat6A will work because there usually isn’t a long distance between devices or a need for PoE. Outside the data center, the choice becomes harder because you have to predict what your needs will be many years in the future. 
  
If you are putting in a new cable plant, our suggestion is to consider Cat6A because that will give you the longest life and there is a good chance that you will want to start using devices that have high PoE requirements that only Cat6A can support over distance. If you have an immediate need for some devices that require 10gig or have high PoE requirements, you can start running Cat6A to support these devices.
  
When should you choose Cat6?  It would seem that unless you definitively know that you will not have any high PoE requirements, or will not need 10gig at maximum distance (100 meters), then you could choose Cat6.  But that’s a tough call to make. Ultimately, if Cat6A is not in your budget and you have no immediate need for Cat6A, then budget will be the deciding factor. Cat6A materials cost about 3x what Cat6 material costs and depending on the size of your project that can be pretty significant.  However, you should weigh this against your long-term strategy. A 25-year warranty is lengthy, and if you plan to be in the same building for more than 7 years, Cat6A is worth considering for investment protection.  

7 Tips to Keep Your Cisco WebEx Meetings Secure

Security has always been important, but with the recent spike in online video conferencing brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic it’s important to remember some basic best practices to keep your meetings secure:

1. Keep the number of Webex administrators to a minimum

Fewer administrators means fewer opportunities for site settings errors.

2. Make all meetings unlisted

If you leave your meetings public, anyone can go to your Webex site and try to join them.

3. Require passwords for all meetings, events, and sessions and from phone or video systems

Only people with the password can get into the meeting – no matter what device or application they are calling from.

4. Require sign-in when joining a meeting, event, or training session

Use this for any meetings that are internal only with no guest users.

5. Do not allow Join Before Host

This keeps participants in a waiting room until the host joins the conference.

6. Enforce personal room locking after a default time

When people join your personal meeting room, this will automatically lock the room after a period of time to keep someone from joining mid-meeting without permission.

7. Restrict unauthorized users

This forces any guest user to wait in the lobby of the personal room until the host manually lets them in.

Follow these best practices and you will have secure meetings with no intruders.