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“How being honest, direct, and moving on quickly can help you overcome major setbacks”, With Molly O’Neill, Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Narrative Company

By Yitzi Weiner


…When I held another senior position, we lost a bunch of important data. Now it wasn’t PII, but it was significant and came with some financial but mostly reputational hits. Quite frankly, it was embarrassing. I remember being briefed on this event and deciding how to handle it. We had already isolated the issue and why it happened. Now, I was going to have to make a few calls to people who would not be happy. My approach was to be honest about what happened, talk about how we could remedy the situation, and then talk about what we put into place so that doesn’t happen again. To me, overcoming these types of events is best to deal with them quickly, honestly, directly and move on. Battle scars can make us better in the future.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Molly O’Neill, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Narrative Company. She is an award-winning tech executive, and a recognized writer and presenter for print, radio and online media. As a former Federal CIO, she has regulatory expertise and testified multiple times before US Congress on issues related to technology.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you got involved in this industry?

I had been leading innovation in government for many years and continued to keep up with trends and new technology in all sectors. But change is slow in that sector and I was anxious to do something different that was moving at a faster pace. I was drawn to Narrative Company because of the mission to transform and disrupt online content outlets, but also because it is on the leading edge of blockchain and cryptocurrency. It was one of the few projects out there that wanted to demonstrate value in crypto with true utility in building a new content economy. You know you are working on something unique when there are regulatory hurdles. Typically, this means you are working on real innovation, disruption and unchartered territory.

Can you share 5 ways to help help stabilize the Crypto Economy?

Regulation should not be about controlling the market but rather protecting the cryptocurrency market and, of course, the investors. That said, regulating cryptocurrency exchanges are important to protecting the market and its volatility. Five simple ways that regulation can help protect the market include:

● Ensuring that exchanges are being run by real companies (established business location) with real people (named executives, management, staff and advisors)

● Establishing security protection procedures at the exchange level — how will the assets stored in central exchanges be protected? This should include an insider threat program to ensure an exchange’s own people are not stealing.

● Establishing process and procedures for KYC/AML with minimum requirements

● Reporting theft/fraud to an international sharing organization (at a set reporting threshold level)

● Creating and ensuring adequate warnings are made to withdraw assets off exchanges and into more secure wallets.

These are pretty low-hurdle regulations that would go a very long way.

In your opinion, what are the top things that firms like yours should consider in order to have a competitive edge?

I am not sure I am an expert on all crypto firms, as my own company doesn’t identify only as a crypto firm, although we have a token. We are building a platform to utilize the token that will drive value. With that in mind, competitive edge should be ensuring the value in the cryptocurrency — outside of hype. What is the usage and impact of the coin or token? If you focus on value beyond hype, the chances for survival against your competitors will increase. If is all about hype and no real usage/value, the market will eventually correct.

Can you share examples of measures that you take to boost your network security? 

We have seen tons of reported “internal” breaches in the cryptomarket and other segments. This is one of the reasons I suggested that there be a regulatory requirement to put some kind of insider threat program in place for crypto companies, especially exchanges. In the past, I developed an insider threat program for a large company with a lot less at stake financially. A couple suggested quick measures you can do to prevent an internal data breach:

● Background checks on employees

● Identify all data collected, understand how it is it managed, and identify risks of loss

● Provide secure protections to higher risk data and limit access. This includes encryption of data or using cold storage (crypto) with limited access

● Review and pass-down security requirements to third parties (you are only as secure as your weakest link)

● Monitor employee behaviors and actions. There may be some regulatory/privacy barriers to this but being aware of simple things like work schedule changes, or seeking access to information may be an indicator of unwanted behavior. Special due diligence on employees who leave the company is wise. In these cases, access to data should be severed immediately.

Have you faced setbacks and failures before? What kept you going and helped you to overcome those times?

It didn’t happen at Narrative, but when I held another senior position, we lost a bunch of important data. Now it wasn’t PII, but it was significant and came with some financial but mostly reputational hits. Quite frankly, it was embarrassing. I remember being briefed on this event and deciding how to handle it. We had already isolated the issue and why it happened. Now, I was going to have to make a few calls to people who would not be happy. My approach was to be honest about what happened, talk about how we could remedy the situation, and then talk about what we put into place so that doesn’t happen again. To me, overcoming these types of events is best to deal with them quickly, honestly, directly and move on. Battle scars can make us better in the future.

What you your daily “Success Rituals”?

Read and learn for a few minutes every day. I am a big advocate of stepping away from your “normal” to learn about something very different. It’s amazing how you can apply that to future work.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

A classic by Henry Ford is anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” Learning and adapting to change makes life so much more interesting. It also keeps your mind exercised.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Twitter: @mollynews

Thank you so much for this. This was very enlightening!

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