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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 (AG) 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

You can now make Amazon returns at Kohl’s

(BUSINESS NEWS) Amazon is teaming up with Kohl’s to give shoppers a few of the brick and mortar conveniences with online shopping.

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With online retailers giving brick-and-mortar stores a run for their money, some brands are choosing to collaborate, rather than compete. Kohl’s has announced that it will team with Amazon to create “Amazon Experience” mini-stores within Kohl’s locations.

The companies are testing the concept with 10 stores in the Los Angeles and Chicago areas. If it goes well, they’ll expand that number to 82.

The Amazon Experience stores will be staffed with Amazon salespeople, but Kohl’s employees will run the Amazon returns counter. Customers can even bring unpackaged items from Amazon, and Kohl’s employees will help them pack and ship it back to Amazon, free of charge.

It seems that Amazon is looking to have more physical presence with customers and to make returns easier, while Kohl’s hopes to downsize their store space and generate revenue by renting to other brands.

Just this month, Kohl’s opened four smaller stores that have 60 percent less footage and 25 percent less inventory than their typical stores. Customers can still access the entire Kohl’s inventory at kiosks that also offer in-store pickup.

It’s clear that Kohl’s isn’t afraid to combine the brick-and-mortar and online experiences, and their collaboration with Amazon is further evidence that the brand is adapting to the digital marketplace.

“This is a great example of how Kohl’s and Amazon are leveraging each other’s strengths — ” said Richard Schepp, Chief Administrative Officer of Kohl’s, “ the power of Kohl’s store portfolio and omnichannel capabilities combined with the power of Amazon’s reach and loyal customer base.”

Industry experts predict that Amazon may find other ways to utilize their physical presence in Kohl’s to better serve customers.

Amazon has been dabbling in the world of fashion, and having mini-stores in Kohl’s could present an opportunity for Amazon customers to try on apparel before they buy, bolstering Amazon’s in-house apparel brands.

Apparel analyst Tiffany Hogan told CNBC “We could potentially see new Amazon lines popping up at Kohl’s.”

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IBM is putting blockchains to work for banks

(BUSINESS NEWS) IBM is putting blockchain tech to work so that they can launch a banking system for international transactions.

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Earlier this year, IBM unveiled its “Blockchain as a Service” based on Hyperledger Fabric, creating a public cloud service for customers to build secure blockchain networks.

Now the tech company announced they’re teaming up with payment company KlickEx Group and blockchain startup Stellar to change up the cross-border payment game.

The team is launching a blockchain-based system for banks, aimed to lower the cost and reduce settlement time for global payments for both businesses and consumers. International transactions typically take days, or even weeks, to complete.

Blockchains could speed things up, minimize errors, and provide more flexibility and transparency to banks. According to IBM, the collaboration “is intended to improve the speed in which banks both clear and settle payment transactions on a single network in near real time.”

In case you forgot what blockchains are, here’s a refresher course. Blockchains are a secure digital ledger of transactions with bits of information stored across multiple nodes in a network.

Since there’s no centralized hub, it’s less vulnerable to hacking.

Any time an action is taken, the ledger updates and that data is available to anyone with access to the blockchain. Additionally, each transaction is secured with digital signatures and encryption, providing transparency and security.

Blockchains can be used to trace and track transactions along every step of the way, providing a handy place to combine all product information besides just financial dealings.

For example, IBM suggested a hypothetical in which their system connects a Samoan farmer with an Indonesian buyer.

In this transaction, they stated, “the blockchain would be used to record the terms of the contract, manage trade documentation, allow the farmer to put up collateral, obtain letters of credit, and finalize transaction terms with immediate payment, conducting global trade with transparency and relative ease.”

Instead of scattered information, blockchains collect all relevant steps in a transaction. Currently, they system is used in twelve currency corridors, including New Zealand and the UK, as well as Australia and the Pacific Islands.

Within the next year, the system is expected to handle 60 percent of the South Pacific’s retail industry’s cross-border payments.

Bridget van Kralingen, Senior VP of IBM Industry Platforms, said in statement, “with the guidance of some of the world’s leading financial institutions, IBM is working to explore new ways to make payment networks more efficient and transparent so that banking can happen in real-time, even in the most remote parts of the world.”

Over a dozen banks are part of the initial pilot program, and plan to expand to Southeast Asia, South America, and other areas by early next year.

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A real life robot battle: America vs Japan

(BUSINESS NEWS) Robots are real and America is fresh out of a battle with Japan in a real life robot battle royale.

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What’s the future of sports look like?

Giant. Fighting. Robots.

That’s right, your childhood dreams have arrived, at least I know mine have.

Two years ago, American robotics firm, MegaBots Inc., challenged Japanese rival, Suidobashi Heavy Industries, to a showdown of the battle of the mechs. The challenge was accepted, but with one simple caveat: the inclusion of melee combat.

And so the Super Heavyweight Title Fight two-years in the making premiered on leading social video platform, Twitch, yesterday evening to tech and sci-fi fans alike who waited with baited breath for such an event.

In order to prepare for the match, the American team needed to build a new bot capable of fulfilling the duel requirement, as well as one that would be a force to be reckoned with against the Japanese fighting machine.

MegaBots, or “Team America,” was able to crowdfund the robot battle through a Kickstarter campaign earning over $500,000 by just under 8,000 backers. With this campaign, they were also able to upgrade their Mk.II behemoth that would be entering the rumble.

Meet Eagle Prime.

More metal. More power. More American.

According to MegaBots, Eagle Prime “weighs in at 12 tons, stands 16 feet tall, seats two, is powered by a 430 horsepower V8 LS3 engine, and costs a cool $2.5M.” This robot is massive; a good foot higher than its predecessor.

Founders Matt Oehrlein and Gui Cavalcanti commented on the design of Eagle Prime, quipping, “We made it huge and strapped guns to it;” as American as apple pie.

Suidobashi’s robot, KURATAS, stands a few feet shorter (about 13 feet tall), but carries a more sleek and elegant design to it. With a tripod-wheeled base and twin Gatling BB canons with the ability to fire 6,000 bullets per second, it seemed a toss-up as to who would reign supreme in the first mech battle.

While this sounds like an epic episode of awesomeness, don’t expect Pacific Rim level combat just yet. Rather than give a play-by-play of the event, I’ll just tell you straight away that Eagle Prime came out on top in the brawl. To be fair though, it really wasn’t much of a brawl.

Eagle Prime had two years of extra time to be built in preparation for such a match against Kuratas. It was made bigger (and for “funzies”, added patriotic colors to the bot as well as a head of a bald eagle for a “head” as well as a chainsaw-sword-type of device that likely, and ultimately, ended up costing Kuratas a pretty penny in damages.

Really, Kuratas had no chance: there was a bit of overkill on the part of Eagle Prime.

The chain-sword alone raises some safety concerns, especially when we’re talking the future of sports. That said, the pilots of both mechs, Eagle Prime piloted by both Oehrlein and Cavalcanti and Kuratas by Kogoro Kurata, could use a bit more protective gear than helmets, even if the robots in action look like a couple of toddlers fighting.

But hey, it’s a start. And that’s the point.

Maybe one day we will be in giant stadium arenas watching huge robots piloted by humans hashing it out, but we’ve got a long ways to go. And maybe, just maybe, these things could be of use in natural disaster efforts.

Who wouldn’t want to be saved by an Optimus Prime-like, human-piloted “robot” that could withstand whatever was thrown its way?

It’s going to be an expensive endeavor that will require a nice chunk of change in investments and endorsements, though I will say, what a time to be alive.

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