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Opinion Editorials

What You Think and What You Know

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My Parents Loved to Argue

Not with each other.Not about who takes out the trash, or why the toothpaste cap wasn’t replaced. In fact I never remember them raising their voices to each other. For the short time I had them both, I always saw them in perfect harmony. But they loved to argue none the less.

In fact, my whole family loved heated conversation, – Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents, Cousins, all had points of view about politics or current events, or the ethical reasons behind a business decision. And these were smart people. You didn’t win an argument in their world with rhetoric. If you wanted to win an argument, you needed to make precise points, supported by hard information, or demonstrated empirically. But if you could do that, you had the ultimate reward. The other person would acknowledge your superior arguments by acceding to you position and agreeing you were right. And not because they wanted to end the argument, but because they saw your point- and they had the ability to learn that another’s point of view might be the right one.

I didn’t realize until I was older that everyone wasn’t like that. You need to be self-confident to be able to admit that you might be wrong. If you’re not confident, then every time someone else is right you are somehow diminished. In fact, the ability to converse and debate and accept the opposing point of view if it is made well is so rare, that it has become worthy of note in my world. When I first served on the Interpretations and Procedures Sub-Committee of NAR’s Professional Standards Committee, I left the meeting and called my wife and said.”I just had the best time ever! I sat in a room with almost 20 well informed, articulate people, with strong points of view, who were willing to be talked off their position if you could make your point well enough!”

Some Things Aren’t Convincing

Many people have a problem when they write. They give an opinion and frame it as a fact. That’s just not accurate. Saying something with conviction does not convert it from opinion to fact, its just a loud opinion. And as I pointed out earlier, an opinion might not be the most valid opinion, its just yours.

Speaking in generalities does not mean that your statement will apply in every market or in every situation. Nor does your experience create valid generalities. It speaks only to your experience.

Repeating something said to you by someone you respect or trust doesn’t make a fact of an opinion. Even the people you respect can have misinformation. And your confidence in the other person doesn;t mean that they had all of the facts – only that they believed that they had all the facts.

I don’t mind when someone shares their experience, as long as that experience is qualified as their experience , not some universal truth. Until you have run a business, its hard to have a valid opinion about what the owner should or should not do to provide better (fill in the blank) or avoid (fill in the blank). Its not hard to have an opinion , its hard to have one that is valid. And even the amount of validity can be questioned based upon the experience of the person providing the experience.

And Some Things Are

When Lani Anglin-Rosales write about Social Media , I’m interested. When Russel Shaw writes about listings , I’m interested.When Rich Jacobson writes about Communities on-Line or Teresa Boardman writes about photography and blogging, I’m interested. Because they have substantial experience in those fields and when they speak about those things they have hard facts or numbers to back up their statements.

Its too easy, in this arena, to take a whack at some targets. National Brands, Large Companies, Different Business Models, Trade organizations, or people that don’t use technology as we do. But like too many of the easy things in life, there isn’t as much reward in those activities as there is in sharing ideas that work, technology that we can use, and activities that we have found rewarding.

Your Voice IS Important

When you write, a post,a comment, or even a tweet on twitter, you are taking a position in front of a larger audience. You have a responsibility to that audience and to each other.

You need to tell them what you know is fact. Not what you think is fact.

You need to tell them when you are sharing experience and when you are sharing opinion without experience.

You should recognize that your words may have far reaching and unintended consequences, and think about what those things may be. There are more people impacted by each statement then you may think.

Write as if the whole world was watching and listening to your words – including your family. And then make sure that those you value would be proud of the position you took and the words you used to support it.

Bill is an unusual blend of Old & New - The CEO Century 21 Advantage Gold (Philadelphia's Largest Century 21 company and BuzzBuilderz (a Social Media Marketing Company), He is a Ninja CEO, blending the Web 1 and 2.0 world together in a fashion that stretches the fabric of the universe. You can follow him on twitter @Billlublin or Facebook or LinkedIn.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Ken Brand

    July 31, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Bill, what I know is, “you’re an insightful guy.” What I think is we all can easily fall into the trap of sloppy thinking and even lazier communication. As you’ve shared, it takes extra conscious effort to think things through, consider the consequences, repercussions and perceptions of our message, then share it.

    How many times have I been boomerang bitten by puking out facts that only had technicolor chunks of actual-fact and a whole lot of liquid opinion-fact. Too many.

    Great post, nice reminder, everyone wins when you think first and speak/communicate concisely.

    Thanks.

  2. Vance Shutes

    July 31, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Bill,

    >”When Lani Anglin-Rosales write about Social Media , I’m interested. When Russel Shaw writes about listings , I’m interested.When Rich Jacobson writes about Communities on-Line or Teresa Boardman writes about photography and blogging, I’m interested.”

    There’s something to say for expertise in the field, as these outstanding AG writers certainly are. That’s why you (and I) are interested. It’s important that your voice comes through, expressing your expertise. What’s important, here, is that you have to know your expertise (first) in order to express it through your voice – via your blog, or your photos, or videos. To me, it’s fabulous to see that the little “Flip” videocam has alread sold over a million products. That tells me that even those who aren’t confident in expressing their “voice” through words, they can express is through their own video work.

    My point? First, to know yourself so well that you know your own expertise. Second, to have confidence in that expertise – after all, that’s what our clients sense when they hire us. Finally, to act on that confidence by choosing the optimal way to express that voice – by words, photos, or video – or some other format yet to be developed!

  3. Vicki Moore

    July 31, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    I love to argue – I mean debate. I think it’s crucial to having a functioning brain. In having an opinion, people often think of their position as fact and frequently have a hard time differentiating. I heard a lot of argument at Inman about what is fact regarding SEO and what isn’t.

    I think the funniest thing that happened to me in this realm is that someone walked in when I was having a heated conversation with a friend. The guy who walked in said, “Are you guys arguing?” In unison we said: Yeah, but not with each other.

    Your reminder is a good one. When we loudly state our opinions, remember: people are listening. Another important reminder is not to make it personal and not to take it personally when there’s a passionate opinion.

  4. Jonathan Dalton

    July 31, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    I try not to take any of this personally but as everyone learned last week, I’m a delicate flower.

    Where problems usually arise is when people confuse their opinion with fact. Or frame their opinion in such a manner that they feel no opposition is possible. Seen that happen far too often.

  5. Bill Lublin

    July 31, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    @Ken & @ Vance – Thanks so much for your responses. and for getting the point 😉

    @ Vicki – When you speak everyone listens ( I was going to make an EF Hutton reference but O didn;t know if they were still in business or if anyone listens to them anymore

    @Jonathan You are a desert flower that blooms with magnificent color (please see Ken’s comment about Technicolor puke) – part of the arguing thing is ethnic – you understand 😉

  6. Vicki Moore

    August 1, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Thanks Bill. I needed that.

    Yes, Jonathan, I agree – you are a fragile flower.

  7. Paula Henry

    August 1, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Ahhhh……Bill, stated so eloquently! While the web has provided transparency and knowledge to the consumer and professional, it has also made many experts whose opinions would have been better kept inside their own head. Especially when they state it as fact!

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Opinion Editorials

The truth about unemployment from someone who’s been through it

(EDITORIAL) Unemployment benefits aren’t what you thought they were. Here’s a first-hand experience and what you need to know.

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Have I ever told you how I owed the government over two grand because of unemployment in 2019, and only just finished paying it back this year?

This isn’t exactly the forum for memoirs, but this is relevant to everyone. So I’ll tell y’all anyway.

It all started back in 2018 when I came into work early, microwaved my breakfast, poured coffee, and got pulled into a collaboration room to hear, “We love you and your work, April, but we’ve been bought out and you’re being laid off.”

It was kind of awkward carrying my stuff out to the car with that Jimmy Dean sandwich in my mouth.

More awkward still was the nine months of unemployment I went through afterwards. Between the fully clothed shower crying, the stream of job denial, catering to people who carried rocks in their nostrils at my part-time job (yes, ew, yes, really), and almost dying of no-health-insurance-itis, I learned a lot!

The bigger lesson though, came in the spring of the following year when I filed my taxes. I should back up for a moment and take the time to let those of you unfamiliar with unemployment in Texas in on a few things that aren’t common knowledge.

1: You’re only eligible if you were laid off. Not if you had quit. Not fired. Your former company can also choose to challenge your eligibility for benefits if they didn’t like your face on the way out. So the only way you’re 100% guaranteed to get paid in (what the state calls) “a timely manner”, is a completely amicable split.

2: Overpayments have to go back. Immediately. If there’s an error, like several thousand of Texans found out this week, the government needs that cash back before you can access any more. If you’re not watching your bank account to make sure you’re getting the exact same check each time and you have an overpayment, rest assured that mistake isn’t going to take long to correct. Unfortunately, if you spent that money unknowingly–thought you got an ‘in these uncertain times’ kinder and gentler adjustment and have 0 income, you have a problem. Tying into Coronavirus nonsense is point three!

3: There are no sick days. If ever you’re unable to work for any reason, be it a car accident, childbirth, horrible internal infection (see also no-health-insurance-itis), you are legally required to report it, and you will not be paid for any days you were incapacitated. Personally, my no-health-insurance-itis came with a bad fever and bedrest order that axed me out of my part time job AND killed my unemployment benefits for the week I spent getting my internal organs to like me again. But as it turned out, the payment denial came at the right time because–

4: Unemployment benefits are finite. Even if you choose to lie on your request forms about how hard you’re searching for work, coasting is ill-advised because once the number the state allots you runs out…it’s out. Don’t lie on your request forms, by the way. In my case, since I got cut from my part-time gig, I got a call from the Texas Workforce Commission about why my hours were short. I was able to point out where I’d reported my sickness to them and to my employer, so my unpaid week rolled over to a later request date. I continued to get paid right up until my hiring date which was also EXACTLY when my benefits ran out.

Unemployment isn’t a career, which is odd considering the fact that unemployment payments are qualified by the government as income.

Ergo, fact number five…

5: Your benefits? They’re taxed.

That’s right, you will be TAXED for not having a job.

The stereotype of the ‘lazy unemployment collector burdening society’ should be fading pretty quickly for the hitherto uninformed about now.

To bring it back to my story, I’d completely forgotten that when I filed for unemployment in the first place, I’d asked for my taxes NOT to be withheld from it–assuming that I wasn’t going to be searching for full time work for very long. I figured “Well, I’ll have a tax refund coming since I’ll get work again no problem, it’ll cancel out.”

Except, it was a problem. Because of the nine month situation.

I’d completely forgotten about it by the time I threw myself into my new job, but after doing my taxes, triple checking the laws and what I’d signed, it was clear. Somehow…despite being at my lowest point in life, I owed the highest amount in taxes, somewhere around the 2k mark.

Despite being based on a system that’s tied to how much income you were getting before, and all the frustrating “safeguards” put in place to keep payments as low and infrequent as possible, Uncle Sam still wants a bite out of the gas-station Hostess pie that is your unemployment check. And as I’m writing this, more and more people are finding that out.

I’d like to end this on a more positive note…so let’s say we’ve all been positively educated! That’s a net gain, surely.

Keep your heads up, and masked.

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Opinion Editorials

COVID-19 acts are unfortunately too short sighted

(BUSINESS NEWS) The biggest flaw in the CARES act is simply that it won’t last. Numerous issues have extended the life of COVID-19 but the act hasn’t matched it.

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The CARES act gives an additional $600 weekly to those on unemployment assistance. The idea being that, combined with the $380 already granted by unemployment, the payments would roughly equal the wage of the average worker prior to the pandemic- about $1,000 weekly.

But on July 31st, the expansion that CARES provides will expire, and benefits will return to pre-pandemic amounts. Those currently receiving the maximum payment will see a 61% decrease in their income. In states that offer lower benefit payments, that percentage goes even higher. All of this comes during a national rental crisis, and moratoriums on evictions across the country are also nearing their ends or being extended last minute.

This isn’t the first or only “yuge” hole in the federal government’s COVID-19 safety net. Many Americans (this writer included) have seen neither hide nor hair of their promised stimulus checks. The HEROES act, which is being billed as a second round of stimulus money, remains under debate- as it has been for several weeks.

And the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which requires certain businesses to provide two weeks of paid leave to workers who may be sick (or caring for someone who is) has plenty of problems too, namely the laundry list of exceptions to it.

This is just the most recent push to return to the pre-virus economy before effective protective measures have been put in place for workers and consumers alike. After all, with cases of COVID-19 spiking again in the US, it’s apparent that the act is still absolutely necessary. Our lawmakers either lack patience, or compassion – take your pick. Frankly, I say it’s both.

Not only have countless health experts warned that reopening too early will be disastrous, but if a second lockdown is in our future, all of the time, money, and human lives that went into reopening will be wasted.

There is a silver lining among the storm clouds on the horizon. Because ballooning unemployment has created long wait times for benefit applicants, unemployment assistance programs are shelling out retroactive back payments to those deemed eligible.

Good news, at least, for laid off workers who have been waiting months to hear their fate.

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Opinion Editorials

Women-owned businesses make up 42% of all businesses – heck yeah!

(EDITORIAL) Women-owned businesses make a huge impact on the U.S economy. They make up 42% of all businesses, outpace the national growth rate by 50%, and hire billions of workers.

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Women entrepreneurs make history in the U.S as female-owned businesses represent 42% of all businesses, while continuing to increase at DOUBLE the national growth rate!

Women are running the world, and we are here for it! The 2019 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, states 13 million women are now self-employed entrepreneurs. From 2014 to 2019, women-owned businesses grew 21%. Think that’s impressive? Well, businesses owned by women of color grew 43% within the same timeframe, with a growth rate of 50%, and currently account for 50% of all women-owned businesses! Way to go! What this also means is that women employ over 2.4 million workers who together generate $422.5 billion in revenue.

What can we learn from these women that’ll help you achieve success in your businesses?

  1. Get informed: In a male-dominated business industry, women are often at a disadvantage and face multiple biases. So, know your stuff; study, research, and when you think you know it all…dig deeper!
  2. Stay hungry: Remember why you started this journey. Write down notes and reminders, goals, and inspirations, hang them up and keep them close.
  3. Ask for advice: Life is not meant to go through alone, so ask questions. Find a mentor and talk to people who have walked a similar path. Learning from them will only benefit your business.

Many of these women found ways to use their passion to drive their business. It may not be exactly what they thought it would be when they started out, but is it ever? Everyone has to start off small and rejection is part of the process. In fact, stories of rejection often serve as inspiration and encouragement to soon-to-be self starters.

Did you know J.K Rowling’s “Harry Potter” book was turned down TWELVE times? Seven books later with over 400 million copies sold, the Harry Potter brand is currently valued at over 15 billion. While you might not become a wizard-writing fantasy legend like J.K Rowling, you sure as heck can be successful. So go for it, and chase your dreams.

If you want to support women-owned businesses, start by scrolling through Facebook or doing some research to find women-owned businesses in your community. Then, support by buying or helping to promote their products. Small businesses, especially women-owned, black women-owned, and women of color-owned, are disproportionally affected by the current economic crisis ignited by a health pandemic. So if you can, shop small and support local. And remember, there’s a girl (or more) doing a happy dance when you checkout!

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