What Heartbleed Means for You: Time To Change Every Password

What Heardbleed Means for You

It’s been a few weeks now since the Heartbleed security bug became known, and hopefully the vulnerable systems have mostly been patched. But now the real work begins.

Briefly, Heartbleed is a security hole that affected a sizable percentage of the web servers in the world. It enabled hackers to directly read the contents of a server’s memory—which could include usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and anything else—without leaving a trace.

Early on in this crisis, there were attempts to identify the affected services so users could change their passwords…on just those services. It’s now clear that a more scorched-earth strategy is in order.

I’ll cut to the chase: You need to change every password you use, on every service and every account.

Why? Because, like most people, you probably:

  • Use fairly week passwords
  • Re-use passwords on different websites
  • Had your good passwords exposed by the Heartbleed bug

Here’s an article I wrote a few months back on creating a password rule that should keep you pretty safe, and keep you from re-using passwords on different websites.

Trying A Password Manager

While I’ve resisted this solution for years because it sounds like a single point of vulnerability, I’m finally trying 1Password from AgileBits. There are a number of great password managers that work on all platforms, but 1Password has been around for a decade and seems to be the most-respected among the techies I follow.

I may have more to share after using 1Password for a few weeks, but so far, I’m liking its features:

  • It can tell when you’re being asked to create a new password, and it will generate and save a random password for you
  • All you have to remember is one master password, and 1Password will store and fill in the rest for you
  • You can store multiple logins for the same services, which doesn’t always work when you have your browser remember your password


Please take this seriously. Heartbleed made it possible for hackers to steal just about any information that has ever lived on a web server.

It’s time to change your passwords. Really.


The Brilliance Two-Step: Turning Ideas Into Action

How To Attract Brilliance

Why do some people seem like they’re rocking it, making big things happen in their schools, while other principals can barely manage the day-to-day?

The basic answer is, of course, productivity. High-performance leaders can simply accomplish more in the same amount of time.

But we don’t want to just speed up; we want to do better and more impactful work.

And that takes thinking. Better work comes from better ideas.

Setting Yourself Up for Brilliance

As school leaders, we make an enormous number of important (and unimportant) decisions every day. Our brains stay busy.

How can we set ourselves up to have great ideas and turn them into action?

The same way an Ivy League university recruits its student body: attractiveness and selectivity.

Or as Nobel laureate Linus Pauling put it:

The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas, and throw the bad ones away.

Sometimes we attract good ideas, and sometimes we don’t. When the day is a frantic blur, we don’t have good ideas, because we’re not prepared for them.

I find that great ideas pop into my head the more I:

  • Prepare for what’s going to happen that day
  • Build physical activity into my day
  • Read widely and talk with other people (especially my brilliant wife, Dr. Amy Baeder) about what I’m reading
  • Write down all of my ideas

This last point—writing down all of your ideas—is one of the most powerful recommendations I can make.

But where do you write them down, and what do you do with them?

To Do, and Not To Do

I write my ideas down in my to-do list inbox. A lot of people are surprised when they hear that modern to-do list apps, such as ToDoist, have an inbox, since that’s something we associate with email.

The inbox is essential, because it allows us to implement Pauling’s second step: throwing away the bad ideas. When I write something down, I’m essentially brainstorming. We can’t—and shouldn’t—act on every idea that ever pops into our heads.

From the inbox, we can process each idea, just like we’d process email: We can delegate it, defer it, do it, or delete it.

Many of my ideas go on an “ideas” list within my to-do app, so they’re not deleted, but they’re not mixed in with my current action items.

From there, it’s a matter of planning projects to turn the good ideas into action.

Write down ideas, and separate the good from the bad. That’s the Brilliance Two-Step.


Be Proactive With Email With One Simple Trick

Email is a powerful tool, yet it’s also a growing burden for school leaders to bear. It seems that every time we check our email, there’s more coming in, distracting us from what we want to work on. (That’s why I recommend using a to-do app, such as ToDoist, rather than your email inbox, to […]

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When Your Workload Gets Out of Control

It’s happened to all of us. It’s happening to thousands of us right now. We work hard, all the time, and still can’t keep up with everything. That’s partly the nature of school leadership. Phone messages pile up, paperwork sits unfinished, emails loom unanswered. How do we survive? How do we recover? And how do […]

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So Happy Together: Task Apps and Email

Email can easily get out of control for school leaders and anyone else who has a lot to deal with. Among the challenges email presents: Anyone can email you It’s easy for other people to create work for you A single email can have several tasks embedded in it The work that needs to be […]

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High Performance Requires A Focus On Behavior, Not Results

As leaders, we like to say that we’re all about results. “Show me the numbers!” we demand. “I don’t want excuses. I want results!” And we should want results; not only are they the bottom line, but the old truism that you get more of what you focus on is, well, true. But results don’t […]

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Tap The Power of Your PLN

We all have people like this in our lives: the people we call when we need to make sense of something that just happened. The people who we can turn to when we’re feeling stuck. The people with whom we share the struggles of leadership. Think for a moment: who are your closest colleagues? Personally, […]

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How To Hire Amazing People (Even In Tough Schools)

I have friends who work in high-needs schools that are overwhelmingly staffed with first-year and second-year teachers. While a school might occasionally find itself in this position, I’m convinced that it must not become a recurring situation. Justice demands that we staff all of our schools with a well-balanced mix of educators, including a critical […]

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Getting Real About Instructional Leadership

Last week, I had the privilege of being the first guest in TeachBoost’s free webinar series on instructional improvement and teacher development. We had a great response, and I wanted to share the recording in case you didn’t get a chance to register. In this brief webinar, you’ll hear: Four big myths about instructional leadership […]

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The FitBit-ification of Professional Growth

Sure, you have colleagues that you’re close with. But are they involved with your professional growth? I asked a few colleagues a question about their PLNs (Personal Learning Networks) via email today, and my inbox exploded with enthusiastic responses. (I was asking if people would be interested in PLN group rates for the High-Performance Instructional […]

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This Is Why Schools Need Principals

We’ve seen a few attempts over the years to have committee-led “leaderless” schools. Very few. If participatory decision-making and inclusion are such important values in our profession, why do virtually all schools have principals? If we believe in the power of collective wisdom, why do we continue to put our trust in individual leaders? Responsibility […]

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3 Ways to Stay Ahead of the Torrent

It’s that time in the school year when things start to happen very quickly: testing, trips, evaluations, celebrations—it seems like everything is happening at once. How can we possibly deal with the daily onslaught of work when we have so many activities going on? Here are 3 quick ways to stay on top of the […]

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Why It’s Better To Binge Than To Learn Every Day

I’m all for continuous learning, and I see plenty of educators engaged in an ongoing professional conversation on Twitter. But I wonder if all this openness to new learning comes at a price. Perhaps it’s healthier to binge. Cognitive Budget In my workshops and presentations lately, I’ve emphasized the importance of turning decisions into policies […]

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Why Most To-Do Lists Are Un-Doable, And How To Fix Them

Chances are good that you can’t follow your to-do list. It’s not because of interruptions or a lack of time, and it’s not that you’re a bad person. It’s nothing personal; in fact, everyone has the same problem. To-do lists were invented for a simpler time, a time when you could list your tasks for […]

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The Challenge of “Calibrating” Teacher Observations

When districts strive to provide great training for their administrators on doing high-quality observations and evaluations, I’m delighted. But there’s one goal the process can never achieve, and it bothers people to no end. The unreachable goal? Calibration. “But without calibration, how can teachers be evaluated fairly?” the concern goes. “If one administrator’s assessment would […]

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