I sat down with Mary over brunch last week and she told me all about her latest book, Living Your Best Compliance Life: 65 Hacks & Cheat Codes to Level Up Your Ethics & Compliance Program.
Kristy: Congratulations on the book! As a child of the 90’s, I love the Nintendo game-esque aesthetic you’ve got going and the wink to the cheat codes in the video games of my youth. Classic! OK – tell us about the book. What’s the premise and how can it help readers?
Mary: Thank you so much for your well wishes and being a great example of a woman who celebrates other women. I should probably say #GWIC right now! The book is centered around ideas that your average Compliance Officer can take and action immediately with little or no budget. I get so tired of attending conference sessions where I sit for an hour listening to someone talk about a hot new initiative they implemented such as a Code of Conduct mobile phone app or extensive in-person training roadshow, only to learn that it cost the company several hundred thousand dollars to pull off. That’s not relatable for the majority of people in the room.
I know what it’s like being considered a cost center and always having to make do with little. So this book is for you, the Compliance practitioner that wants to make a difference and have an impact with the limited resources that they have to hand – at least until I get my way and we successfully re-brand ourselves to the revenue and reputation preservation/protection department!
Kristy: Right? That’s a much better name for us! How is this book different from other Ethics and Compliance books available?
Mary: A lot of Compliance books are about the nuts and bolts of Compliance and that’s certainly a welcome and necessary angle. Then we have your classic Wildly Effective series that focuses more on the Compliance practitioner as a whole human being and all of the key skills that are required to succeed when applying the theory of the nuts and bolts.
Taking the platform that other authors like yourself have established, this book provides examples of innovations and tips that companies have found success with inside their organizations that are often not yet industry standard or the norm. It supplements the pre-existing literature by focusing on ways to keep your Compliance program fresh and aims to provide ideas to give Compliance Officers of any experience level, working in programs of any maturity level, with some novel things to try in their own workplace.
Level Up is about the notion that Compliance programs and standards are always evolving. What may have been best practice in 2008 is old hat these days and we’ve moved on. We have to keep working on our program and initiatives to thrive in our space. So, a theme of the book is continuous monitoring and review.
Kristy: What does leveling up a compliance program mean in practice?
Mary: First and foremost, it’s about being humble that there’s always room for improvement and not falling into a state of complacency after an accolade or completing a monitorship or CIA. It’s asking yourself how you can best serve your internal clients and role modeling that standard for your team to follow.
Importantly, we in Compliance get suspicious when the business tells us that they want to do something because it’s what the company has always done. Similarly in our Compliance programs, leveling up is about continuous improvement and learning, not just doing something blindly because that’s the way it has always been – we know that especially when it comes to accessing and using data available to us that this is a standard expectation of us these days.
Leveling up is challenging yourself and your team to administer a compliance program that’s one step better than, and one step ahead of the year before, on an ongoing basis.
Kristy: It’s never done, is it? What’s a tip from the book you’d like to share?
Mary: It’s been a standard practice for many years now for companies to feature their CEO at the beginning of Compliance training or a policy with a dry statement and professional headshot or video about their support for the document or course as a way to demonstrate tone from the top.
Level up on this by turning your CEO into an adjunct Compliance professor and having them teach on a learning objective in the course or provide a quote about a section of the policy. This is a fresh way to lend tone from the top, while also being very respectful of your colleagues’ time.
They don’t need to read or hear that the CEO thinks the initiative is important, the very fact that they’re present is indirect messaging that they stand with the Compliance department on this project.
Kristy: Ooooh, I like that! Professor CEO at your service. Everyone is dying to know – where can the book be purchased?
Mary: The book officially launches on August 15th, and its available on Amazon and both Kindle format. But you can pre-order it now here. Bulk orders (e.g. conference swag, client gifts, compliance department gifts) of ten or more copies being sent to the same place can be made by contacting me here.
Kristy: Thank you so much Mary! It’s going to be a gigantic hit!