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Quit Yer Yarping & Talk Solutions Already – Raise My Bar by Raising Yours

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455244.jpgGreg Swann had a really great point in this week’s Odysseus post regarding being able to answer questions in relation to your value. Hardcore criticism in a blog can do that- “practice you” per se, but does it really? Sure, if the goal post isn’t a transient target. So I wanted to write this to take Greg’s point one step further and I hope, beyond.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading post after post regarding many issues around the blog-o-whatever, and honestly, there isn’t much original thought out there. Most of them are attacks on folks (indirectly of course) that set a comment section on fire. It is a lot of fun to do, and yeah, we’re all guilty of it in some fashion, but not nearly on the level some are doing this.

Writing a post attacking something that people are passionate about is very likely going to get you attention- no names are mentioned, the statements are broad and generalized, and explode much like a verbal pipe bomb. They cut people in so many directions that defending yourself is futile. You’re going to be hit if you’re in the line of fire. How is this a sincere challenge? It isn’t. It no more teaches or instructs, than a swift kick to the face. What is wrong with this method of writing is that there is nothing constructive to gain from it, especially for consumers.

I, for one, am getting really bored of the nameless attacks. I see no real value in educating the ignorant unless the ignorant are willing to hear and understand, and engage realistic solutions. That is what is missing in the blog world and why technology blogs garner so many comments to posts related to How Tos; they’re constructive. They answer a need, a question, and the opportunity to grow in your own interest. I see the overwhelming success of Zillow’s Forums & Wiki and can gather that information is in high demand. Does your blog post answer the demand? Some do. Others do not.

Are you inventing new and innovative technologies for consumers? Are you redesigning a business model from the ground up and offering it up as a solution? Are you spending your day gathering facts that would help another in your profession grow their own business? Are you offering an idea for a product that enhances an industry? Are you evaluating the above for your reader? If your answer is no, then you may want to evaluate whether blogging is for you because flaming the choir is a waste of everyone’s time and energy.

My last thought is this- many flamers hide behind the veil ofblogging for the consumer.” But the consumer doesn’t want chaos, confusion, a verbal fist fight, or anything like that (they have television for that). They want ideas and solutions- they want to be inspired. The Realtors that read you want very much the same. I want to read far out ideas with crazy today solutions- I know I am not alone in my feelings as I’ve had many conversations with peers on this subject.

So, if you’re looking for ideas to write about, here are a few:

  • How do we organize and speak to NAR and be heard in a constructive way?
  • How do you envision your real estate practice in year 2010?
  • Comparing business models and what positives they all have
  • Your idea of your value to the consumer
  • What are the dangers of RE Forums to consumers (ie. fair housing, facts versus opinions)

How to blog and engage rather than incite:

  • Narrow your scope in what you target
  • Use facts to base your point, not rhetoric
  • Accept arguments and use them to build solution
  • Find the middle
  • Offer suggestions in regards to a reader’s personal growth
  • Never make a comparison that is not based in fact
  • Never insult those you claim to be teaching
  • Offer a realistic solution in place of destructive observations
  • Never speak from both ends

Inspirational things consumers are drawn too:

  • Redfin
  • HGTV
  • TLC
  • The Discovery Channel
  • Social Networks & People Talk
  • Technology
  • Innovative ideas

There will be a few readers who may be offended by what I’ve said here and that is unfortunate. My intention is to simply raise the bar, even in my own writing. Anyone can criticize anything, that’s easy, the question really is- do you have what it takes to put up solutions even if they may be torn apart? That’s the post readers will engage every single time and just as hot as a flame job.

What inspires you?

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Drew Meyers

    August 20, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    I totally 100% agree with your point that people want to be inspired — sadly, some people (IMO) don’t ever find true inspiration.

    What inspires me? Helping others educate themselves and improve their business/life in the process. Along the same lines — micro finance, which you’ll see me blogging more about in the future on my own blog.

  2. B. R.

    August 20, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    That’s awesome, you may lose me at micro finance, but I swear I’m a fan of everything else you ever write!

    Thanks for coming by!

  3. Drew Meyers

    August 20, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    Microfinance is just empowering entrepreneurs around the world to bring themselves out of poverty through entrepreneurship. Sustainable change — rather than just granting money which will not change anything in the long term.

    Check out Kiva.org. I think you’ll love the concept.

  4. B. R.

    August 21, 2007 at 8:19 am

    Drew, yes, I’ve seen this and I think it’s awesome. It is a really cool alternitive to charity, very interactive, I love it.

    There was something going here in the states much the same, only the loans were larger and there was a profit opportunity. I wasn’t that impressed, but the concept was really neat.

    Way to promote a solution…

  5. Jay Thompson

    August 21, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    This is the best post I’ve seen in a long time.

    What inspires me? I like to learn, and help others learn. Granted, some (maybe much) of what I post doesn’t do that. But I also on occasion just lay myself out there. I want my readers (particularly prospective client readers) to get to know me. Sometimes that entails writing something completely off-topic or frivolous….

  6. April Groves

    August 22, 2007 at 3:50 am

    Big Dittos and thanks for the mention.

    I am not an internet firestarter and it is not on my to do list. I much prefer your approach of engaging, helping, and raising.

    I am inspired by “Yes I can and you can too!” people. Those who go big. Those who do it scared. Those who do it just because it’s right. Those who do it for somebody else.

    I am inspired by my husband and my kids. They embody the fullness of life – that is inspiring!

  7. Lisa Dunn

    August 23, 2007 at 7:16 am

    I think I have a problem. I’m an inspriration junkie. There are *lots* of things I feel passionate about, and when I’m passionate I’m inspired to act. Makes for a busy day!

    I’m inspired by Realtor’s stories about how they try to right the wrongs that are done to our customers. We do this by educating through our blogs, right?

    I’m inspried by my 84 year old clients who look at every day as a new possibility, have a sense of personal responsibility, have a sense of earning what you receive, use their manners, and take the time to share their wisdom with me.

  8. B. R.

    August 23, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Lisa, you’re so right. You seem to have great perspective in your business and why you’re so successful. There is sometimss a shortage of real human interest stories around the re.net. To me, that is where a Realtors real value is displayed is when they demonstrate just how far they go for their clients. Getting hung up on the politics of real estate just erodes our overall value to the consumer.

  9. Michael Price

    August 27, 2007 at 1:00 am

    I am inspired by humility and patience in blogging. It’s not hard to tell if a post or comment has been thoughtfully crafted. It’s even easier to tell if a post was written in haste without checking the facts. Knee jerk reactions are everywhere. Too many people seem to be willing to vilify people and companies without the courtesy of placing themselves in that person’s position for even a millisecond.

    Forming an opinion is easy. Framing an opinion only takes a little more effort.

    I am inspired by passionate thinkers, even those I do not agree with, as long as their passion is genuine. A little grace and humility can go a long way. As you stated we are all “guilty of it in some fashion” and I will certainly admit to my share. It’s the repeat offenders I have to take issue with. Forming an opinion without a complete frame of reference and then launching an attack gets old after a while. When the offender doesn’t take the time to interject a little humility and grace, credibility weakens.

  10. B. R.

    August 27, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Well said Michael, I totally agree.

  11. Erik Hersman

    August 27, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Excellent post!

    Consistently adding value to the conversation through blogging is a long-term strategy that is more difficult to master than just opening a flame war. The payoffs are in being book marked and returned to for a long time to come.

  12. Rebecca Levinson

    August 27, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    This was a refreshing post, as I was getting a bit discouraged over the past week, reading over some of the banter between bloggers bent on getting readership through dagger directed insults disguised as bravado and insight. I prefer the bloggers who look to gain readership through insightful inquiry and educated observation.

  13. Rory Siems

    September 14, 2007 at 10:15 am

    Downside: I have kept my blog mostly vanilla in nature. My ratio for controversy must hover around 1:150. The penalty/result for that is

    No comments or reactions are made.
    Straight facts can sometimes play as boring and lacking value.

    Look at some of the most successful blogs that are outside the real estate space, how many of those straddle “the middle”? None.

    I agree with Jay, part of the purpose of my blog is to let potential clients know who I am. I think that if I continue to keep it too conservative that it may come off as robotic which defeats the purpose even moreso.

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Business Marketing

Technology is helping small businesses adapt and stay afloat

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Small businesses need to utilize digital platforms to adapt their businesses during COVID-19, or else they may be left behind.

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small businesses new tech

While many may not have imagined our present day back in March, and to what extreme we would be doing things “remotely” and via “hands-free contact”, we have to give some credit to small business owners who remain flexible and have pivoted to stay afloat. They deserve major credit on adaptations they have made (and possibly investments) in new technology (ordering online, online payments) especially at a time when their in-person revenues have taken a hit.

There are various marketing buzz words being used lately to say “let’s keep our distance”, including: curbside, to-go, hands-free, no contact, delivery only, order via app, social distancing and #wearamask.

The thing is, if you really think about it, small businesses are always in evolution mode – they have to pay attention to consumer consumption and behaviors that can shift quickly in order to stay relevant and utilize their marketing and advertising budgets wisely. They heavily rely on positive customer reviews and word of mouth recommendations because they may not have the budget for large scale efforts.

For example, we use Lyft or Uber vs calling an individual cab owner; we order on Amazon vs shopping at a local mom-and-pop shop; we download and make playlists of music vs going to a record or music store. Small business owners are constantly fighting to keep up with the big guys and have to take into account how their product/service has relevance, and if it’s easy for people to attain. In current times, they’ve had to place major efforts into contactless experiences that often require utilizing a digital platform.

If stores or restaurants didn’t already have an online ordering platform, they had to implement one. Many may have already had a way to order online but once they were forced to close their dining areas, they had to figure out how to collect payments safely upon pickup; this may have required them to implement a new system. Many restaurants also had to restructure pick up and to-go orders, whether it was adding additional signage or reconfiguring their pick up space to make sure people were able to easily practice social distancing.

According to this article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Studies have shown that 73% of small businesses are not aware of digital resources, such as online payment processing tools, online productivity tools, e-commerce websites, online marketing and other tools, that can help them reach customers around the world. If small businesses had better access to global markets, it could increase the GDP of the United States by $81 billion and add 900,000 new jobs. During the pandemic, this could also mean the difference between thriving and closing for good.”

There are some larger corporate technology companies offering ways to support small businesses whether it’s through small business grants from Google, resources and grants from Facebook or Verizon giving them a break on their telecom bill. The challenge with this may be whether or not small business owners are able to find time from their intense focus on surviving to applying for these grants and managing all that admin time. Many business owners may be focusing on what technology they have and can upgrade, or what they need to implement – most likely while seeing a loss in revenue. So, it can be a tough decision to make new technology investments.

It does seem like many have made incredible strides, and quickly (which is impressive), to still offer their products and services to customers – whether it’s a contactless pay method, free delivery, or even reservations to ensure limited capacity and socially distanced visits. There are still some that just haven’t able to do that yet, and may be looking at other ways to take their business to a wider audience online.

We would encourage, if you can, to support small businesses in your community as often as you can. Understandably there are times that it’s easier to order on Amazon, but if there is a way you can pick up something from a local brewery or family-owned business, this may be the lifeline they need to survive and/or to invest in new technology to help them adapt.

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Business Marketing

There’s a shortage of skilled workers, so get learning

(BUSINESS MARKETING) COVID-19 may end up justifying training funds for lower-class workers to learn new skills. Skilled workers are desperately needed right now.

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skilled worker

The COVID-19 pandemic (yes, that one) has ushered in a lot of unexpected changes, one of the which is most surprising: An increased call for skilled workers — a call that, unfortunately, requires a massive retraining of the existing workforce.

According to the New York Times, nearly 50 percent of Americans were working from home by May; this was, reportedly, a 15 percent increase in remote work. The problems with this model are expansive, but one of the greatest issues stems from the lack of training: As employees of lower-class employment transitioned to working online, it became increasingly evident that there was a shortage of skilled workers in this country.

The Times traces this phenomenon back to the Great Recession; Harvard University’s Lawrence Katz points to some parallels and insinuates that this is an opportunity to elevate the lower class rather than regressing, and it seems fair to put the onus of such elevation on lawmakers and senators.

Indeed, Congress has even addressed the issue of skill equality via “bipartisan support” of a $4000 credit for non-skilled workers to use toward skill training. For Congress to come together on something like this is relatively noteworthy, and it’s hard to disagree with the premise that, given the invariable automation wave, many of our “non-skilled” workers will face unemployment without substantial aid.

COVID-19 has accelerated many trends and processes that should have taken years to propagate, and this is clearly one of them.

Supporting laborers in developing skills that help them work within the technology bubble isn’t just a good idea–it’s imperative, both morally and economically speaking. Even middle-class “skilled” workers have had trouble keeping up with the sheer amount of automation and technology-based skillsets required to stay competent; when one considers how lower-class employees will be impacted by this wave, the outcome is too dark to entertain.

It should be noted that non-skilled workers don’t necessarily have to scale up their training in their current fields; the Times references a truck driver who pivoted hard into software development, and while it may be easier for some to focus on their existing areas of expertise, the option to make a career change does exist.

If we take nothing else away from the time we’ve spent in quarantine, we should remember that skilled labor is integral to our success as a society, and we have a moral obligation to help those who missed the opportunity to develop such skills fulfill that need.

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Business Marketing

6 tips to easily market your side hustle

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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side hustle marketing

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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