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AGBeat’s top 50 industry influencers

(Business News) In an effort to expand horizons, we have listed 50 influencers that we are inspired by and learn from on a regular basis.

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agbeat's top 50 influencers

Top 50 influencers you must meet this year

[dropcap style=”style1″]T[/dropcap]here is endless talent in the world today, some are famous in their own industries, and others are just getting started, so we sought out to highlight 50 people that we believe have a lot to offer, are unique, and influential for various reasons.

In this list, you’ll meet artists, public relations folks, authors, politicians, and budding comedians. You’ll meet experts in everything from Facebook to photography, and it is our hope that by connecting with this group of people, you’ll expand your horizons beyond your own industry, because let’s face it – you’ve already seen the same ol’ people on every “Top 100” list in your world.

We challenge you to follow at least ten of the following influencers that you didn’t know yet, because we’re certain that they’ll enrich your life. They don’t know they’re being named, they didn’t petition for any votes, they are finding out as you are that we find them to be influential regardless of follower count, but based on their talent.

The influencers are listed in alphabetical order, not their level of influence. Enjoy!

Start clicking for influencers you must meet:

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Linda Bernstein

    January 2, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    So many terrific people here! I love this list.

  2. Christopher S. Penn

    January 2, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Thanks for including me! Much appreciated.

  3. Ted Rubin

    January 2, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Honored to be included 🙂

  4. Miriam Slozberg

    January 2, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Very honored to be included! Thank you.

  5. Amber Osborne

    January 2, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Honored to be included among those who inspired me to get into this industry. Thank you!

  6. annhandley

    January 2, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    This list is stuffed full of people I’m lucky enough to call friends, as well as many who have influenced *me*. Thanks for adding my name to the roundup.

  7. Charles E Gaudet II

    January 2, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Thank you for the honor! I’m both humbled and grateful to be included among this least of extraordinary people.

  8. AmyVernon

    January 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks so much for the honor folks. I’m fortunate to have met many of these folks, and now have a whole list of others I want to make sure I catch up with!

  9. AmyVernon

    January 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks so much for the honor folks. I’m fortunate to have met many of these folks, and now have a whole list of others I want to make sure I catch up with!

  10. AmyVernon

    January 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks so much for the honor folks. I’m fortunate to have met many of these folks, and now have a whole list of others I want to make sure I catch up with!

  11. AmyVernon

    January 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks so much for the honor folks. I’m fortunate to have met many of these folks, and now have a whole list of others I want to make sure I catch up with!

  12. AmyVernon

    January 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks so much for the honor folks. I’m fortunate to have met many of these folks, and now have a whole list of others I want to make sure I catch up with!

  13. AmyVernon

    January 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks so much for the honor folks. I’m fortunate to have met many of these folks, and now have a whole list of others I want to make sure I catch up with!

  14. AmyVernon

    January 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks so much for the honor folks. I’m fortunate to have met many of these folks, and now have a whole list of others I want to make sure I catch up with!

  15. AmyVernon

    January 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks so much for the honor folks. I’m fortunate to have met many of these folks, and now have a whole list of others I want to make sure I catch up with!

  16. AmyVernon

    January 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks so much for the honor folks. I’m fortunate to have met many of these folks, and now have a whole list of others I want to make sure I catch up with!

  17. Liz Strauss

    January 2, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Thank you, AGBeat, for the thought and work that went into writing about all of us. You captured the people who have influence not just their resumes, making this fun to read. I’m honored that you included me.

  18. Michelle Poccia

    January 2, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    This list is chock full of GENIUS! Congrats to all who are on it! And thanks AGBeat for my 2014 Stalker List!

  19. Danny Brown

    January 2, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Nice to see such a diverse group, and appreciate the fact you took the time to share reasons why people might want to connect, versus a generic “OMG, these guys are just awesome, y’all!!”

    Cheers for the kind inclusion, and Happy New Year!

  20. J Philip Faranda

    January 2, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    I hope to meet Michael McClure in person someday! He is remarkable.

  21. Belinda Summers

    January 2, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Gee! A bunch of people I look up to. 🙂 How I wish to be one of them someday.

  22. Matt Hixson

    January 2, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    This was a great way to start the year. Thanks for including me.

  23. Belinda Summers

    January 3, 2014 at 1:00 am

    Gee! A bunch of people I look up to. 🙂 How I wish to be one of them someday.

  24. Lucretia M Pruitt

    January 3, 2014 at 3:02 am

    Some of my favorite people on here… Glad to see AGBeat and I agree on so many awesome people as influences!! Congrats for a solid list and kudos to some awesome folks.

  25. Lucretia M Pruitt

    January 3, 2014 at 3:02 am

    Some of my favorite people on here… Glad to see AGBeat and I agree on so many awesome people as influences!! Congrats for a solid list and kudos to some awesome folks.

  26. Michael Q Todd

    January 3, 2014 at 6:37 am

    Great list and especially great endorsements well done for taking the time and effort have subscribed to you

  27. S. Anthony Iannarino

    January 3, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Thanks so much for including me on this all-star list! I am honored!

  28. Heather MacLean

    January 3, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Great list. Nice to see some really familiar faces as well as some new ones.

  29. agbenn

    January 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    As the Founder and Publisher of The American Genius, I certainly do not want to sound callous, and text can be so impersonal. We hear your feedback, and have noted it for future reference. When we see people, we see human beings, whatever their race or gender.

    In saying that, our pick if we were considering race or gender ie. a particular Hispanic Influencer, it would have undoubtedly been His Holiness, Pope Francis. However, because we’ve covered His Holiness, several times in the past month, it gave way to another open spot out of hundreds of thousands of potential people we considered one by one. To be quite honest, I actually had to go back and look and read every entry to see if anyone was or wasn’t Hispanic.

    For the record, I am Hispanic, and I am honored to have our team present this list as it is, and with innocent hearts. We do know several of the persons you’ve mentioned and do hold them in very high regard.

    So thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback and encouragement, and we look forward to meeting and getting to know a few on your list. 🙂

  30. Brian Hansford

    January 3, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    So nice to see some new faces in a list. It gets old seeing lists with the same names over and over just to get SEO juice.

  31. agbenn

    January 3, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Maya, bless your heart for sharing your kind thoughts and ideas with us. We agree with your sentiments profoundly, and thank you for recoginizing the complexity of what we’re presenting through our lists. We’ll take your idea and have the team bounce it around and see if we can’t do something as meaningful more often. As you know, things become passe when over done, even when done well. For the record, you influence me in thought provoking ways, and that’s not easy to do with a guy like me.

    Happy New Year, and kick 2014’s ass!

  32. tracysestili

    January 3, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I love listening to Brian Carter speak. He’s not only funny, but real. Plus he presents data in a way that you didn’t think of. Glad to see he made the list and a few of my other faves. 🙂

  33. Eve Mayer

    January 4, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Whoa, I’m so lucky to be on this list! Thank you very much for thinking I’m somewhat as cool as all those respected peeps!

  34. Pingback: Liva Judic on #MindfulSocial this weekMindful Social Marketing

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Business News

What you need to know about the historic TikTok deal (for now)

(BUSINESS NEWS) No one really knows what’s happening, but the TikTok deal’s impact on business, US-China relations, and the open internet could be huge.

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Male black hands holding app opening TikTok app.

So, maybe you’ve heard that Oracle and Walmart are buying TikTok for national security!

Um, not exactly.

Also, Trump banned TikTok!

Sort of? Maybe?

But then he said he approved the Oracle-Walmart-TikTok deal!

We guess?

The terms of the proposal seem to shift daily, if not hourly. The sheer number of contradictory statements from every player suggests no one really knows what’s going on.

Just one example: Trump said the deal included a $5 billion donation to a fund for education for American youth. TikTok parent ByteDance, said, “Say what now?”

Here’s what we think we know (as of this writing):

Oracle and Walmart would get a combined 20 percent stake in a new U.S.-based company called TikTok Global. Combine that with current US investors in China’s ByteDance, TikTok’s parent, that would give American interests 53 percent. European and other investors would have 11 percent. China would retain 36 percent. (On Saturday Trump said China would have no interests at all. But that does not jibe with the reporting on the deal.)

Oracle would host all user data on its cloud, where it is promising “security will be 100 percent” to keep data safe from China’s prying eyes. But reporting has differed on whether Oracle will get full access to TikTok’s code and AI algorithms. Without full control, skeptics say, Oracle could be little more than a hosting service, and potential security issues would remain unaddressed.

Walmart says they’re excited about their “potential investment and commercial agreements,” suggesting they may be exploring e-commerce opportunities in the app.

The US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which is overseen by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, still has to approve any deal.

As for the TikTok “ban” – which isn’t really a ban because current users can keep it – the Commerce Department postponed the deadline for kicking TikTok off U.S. app stores to September 27, to give time for the deal to be hammered out. Never mind that it’s still not clear whether the U.S. government has authority to do that. Unsurprisingly, ByteDance says it doesn’t in a lawsuit filed September 18.

Whatever happens with the whiplash of the deal’s particulars, there are bigger issues in play.

According to business news site Quartz, moving data storage to Oracle mirrors what companies like Apple have done in China: Appease the Chinese government by allowing all data hosting to be inside China. A similar move could “mark the US, too, shifting from a more laissez-faire approach to user data, to a more sovereign one,” says China tech reporter Jane Li.

More obvious: Corporate sales and mergers are now part of the parrying between the U.S. and China, which adds a whole new playing field for negotiations among businesses.

In the meantime, TikTokkers keep TikTokking. White suburban moms continue to lip sync to rap songs in their kitchens. Gen Z continues to make fun of the president – and pretty much everything else.

And downloads of the app have skyrocketed.

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Business News

Hobby Lobby increases minimum wage, but how much is just to save face?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Are their efforts to raise their minimum wage to $17/hour sincere, or more about saving face after bungling pandemic concerns?

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Hobby Lobby storefront

The arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby announced this week that they will be raising their minimum full-time wage to $17/hour starting October 1st. This decision makes them the latest big retailer to raise wages during the pandemic (Target raised their minimum wage to $15/hour about three months ago, and Walmart and Amazon have temporarily raised wages). The current minimum wage for Hobby Lobby employees is $15/hour, which was implemented in 2014.

While a $17 minimum wage is a big statement for the company (even a $15 minimum wage cannot be agreed upon on the federal level) – and it is no doubt a coveted wage for the majority of the working class – it’s difficult to not see this move as an attempt to regain public support of the company.

When the pandemic first began, Hobby Lobby – with more than 900 stores and 43,000 employees nationwide – refused to close their stores despite being deemed a nonessential business (subsequently, a Dallas judge accused the company of endangering public health).

In April, Hobby Lobby furloughed almost all store employees and the majority of corporate and distribution employees without notice. They also ended emergency leave pay and suspended the use of company-provided paid time off benefits for employees during the furloughs – a decision that was widely criticized by the public, although the company claims the reason for this was so that employees would be able to take full advantage of government handouts during their furlough.

However, the furloughs are not Hobby Lobby’s first moment under fire. The Oklahoma-based Christian company won a 2014 Supreme Court case – the same year they initially raised their minimum wage – that granted them the right to deny their female employees insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Also, Hobby Lobby settled a federal complaint in 2017 that accused them of purchasing upwards of 5,000 looted ancient Iraqi artifacts, smuggled through the United Arab Emirates and Israel – which is simultaneously strange, exploitative, and highly controversial.

Why does this all matter? While raising their minimum wage to $17 should be regarded as a step in the right direction regarding the overall treatment of employees (and, hopefully, $17 becomes the new standard), Hobby Lobby is not without reason to seek favorable public opinion, especially during a pandemic. Yes, we should be quick to condone the action of increasing minimum wage, but perhaps be a little skeptical when deeming a company “good” or “bad”.

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Business News

RIP office culture: How work from home is destroying the economy

(BUSINESS NEWS) It’s not just your empty office left behind: Work from home is drastically changing cities’ economies in more ways than you think.

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An empty meeting room, unfilled by work from home employees.

It’s been almost six months since the U.S. went into lockdown due to COVID-19 and the CDC’s subsequent safety guidelines were issued – it’s safe to say that it is not business as usual. Everyone from restaurant waitstaff to start-up executives have been affected by the shift to work-from-home. Even as restrictions slowly begin to lift, it seems as though the office workspace – regarded as the vital venue for the U.S. economy – will never truly be the same.

Though economists have been focusing largely on small businesses and start-ups, we are only just beginning to understand the impact that not going back into the white-collar office will have on the economy.

The industries that support white-collar office culture in major cities have become increasingly emaciated. The coffee shops, food trucks, and food delivery companies that catered to the white-collar workforce before, during, and after their workday, are no longer in high demand (Starbucks reported a loss of $2 billion this year, which they attribute to Zoomification). Airlines have also been affected as business travel typically accounts for 60%-70% of all air travel.

Also included are high-end hotels, which accommodate the traveling business class. Pharmacies, florists, and gyms located in business districts have become ghost towns. Office supplies companies, such as Xerox, have suffered. Workwear brands such as J. Crew and Brooks Brothers have filed for bankruptcy, as there is no longer a need to dress for the office.

In Manhattan – arguably the country’s most notorious white-collar business mecca – at least 1,200 restaurants have been permanently lost. It is also is predicted that the one-third of all small businesses will close.

Additionally, the borough is facing twice as many apartment vacancies as this time last year, due to the flight of workers no longer tied to midtown offices. Workers have realized their freedom to seek more affordable and spacious residence outside the city. As companies decentralize from cities and rent prices drop, it isn’t all bad news. There is promise that particular urban white-collar neighborhoods will start to become accessible to the working class once again.

Some companies, like Pinterest and REI, are reporting that their shift to work from home is in fact permanent. The long-term effects of deserted office buildings are yet to make themselves evident. What we do know is that the decline of the white-collar office will force us to reimagine the great American cities – with so much lost due to the coronavirus, what can now be gained?

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