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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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Aaron Lee

aaron lee social media expert[dropcap style=”style1″]M[/dropcap]alaysian talent, Aaron Lee is an extremely interesting figure who has become well known for his social media advice, which he gives freely not only on Twitter as @AskAaronLee, but his blog which is updated frequently.

He is a regular on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and even Pinterest, and writes regularly on sites like The Huffington Post.

Lee gained notoriety as the social media talent behind Binkd (Facebook promotions platform), and has even created an online women’s clothing retail company with his girlfriend. He’s very much a generous renaissance man, which is why we forgive him for calling himself a ninja!

Adam Smith

Adam Smith, leadership expert[dropcap style=”style1″]W[/dropcap]ell known for his blog, ASmithBlog which showcases Adam Smith’s advice on living a purposeful life. Smith is a public speaker who teaches people about leadership, communication, creativity, and time management through discipline, and of course, using social media to better connect with others, but Smith has most influenced us with his advice on relationships. Smith speaks openly about his own family and shares his personal life in an effort to help others to improve their relationships, both personal and professional, as part of a purposeful life. He is the host of the popular Purpose Podcast and tweets daily from his @asmithblog handle.

Amanda Quraishi

Amanda Quraishi, interfaith activist[dropcap style=”style1″]A[/dropcap]manda Quraishi is one of the most selfless people you’ll meet in a lifetime, and she has worked hard at every step to give back to her community. Quraishi is the web administrator for Mobile Loaves and Fishes, which takes catering trucks filled with food and clothes directly to the homeless in the city to afford them basic dignities. Trust us, she goes above and beyond in her role at MLF and is becoming one of the most recognized voices on homelessness in her city.

She is involved at InterfaithActivism.org, blogs at muslimahMERICAN, is the Principal Web Strategist at BlogathonATX, and founded Central Texas Muslimaat which is designed to help Muslim women make a difference. She is a brash cusser, a non-profit queen, a web strategist like no other, and one of the most fun people you’ll ever tweet with (find her at imtheq).

Amber Osborne

Amber Osborne, digital strategist[dropcap style=”style1″]D[/dropcap]igital media strategist, Amber Osborne, has worked with startups and international brands alike and is admired for her marketing skills and magnetic personality. She’s known as MissDestructo on Twitter, proof that she doesn’t take herself too seriously (a rare trait in the social media world).

You’ve probably seen her on stage at tech and PR conferences, or in major news outlets, and you’ll be hearing about Meshfire (where she is the CMO), a social media management tool designed for collaboration, ensuring your team is always in sync, in real-time, as events happen.

Amy Lombard

Amy Lombard, artist and photographer[dropcap style=”style1″]W[/dropcap]e knew we would be Amy Lombard fans forever when she posted online that she nearly ruined a photoshoot with real life models because she wanted to photograph a fountain, “because art,” she said. Awesome.

Five years ago she up and moved to New York to pursue her BFA in Photography from the Fashion Institute of Technology, and she is already exhibiting her work around the globe.

She captured our attention when she published Happy Inside, a glossy book featuring photos of people in IKEA, writing that as a photographer, she is “not necessarily interested in staging reality so to speak. Instead, what I am interested in is someone else’s idea of a staged reality.” Genius.

Keep clicking for other 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

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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ibm 401k hyperledger

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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Business News

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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Business News

These stores refuse to start Black Friday early

(BUSINESS NEWS) There is a rising trend of stores being pressured to open their doors earlier and earlier each holiday weekend but these companies refuse.

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This year, Target, Walmart, and Best Buy are among a group of retail super villains who have decided it’s appropriate to begin the Black Friday shopping nightmare on Thanksgiving Day, with some opening as early as 5pm on Thursday.

As someone who has only had the misfortune of working the retail tornado of Black Friday once, I would never wish it upon anyone. Yet many stores feel pressured to begin the doorbusters earlier every year.

To compete with online shopping, brick-and-mortar retailers implement drastic measures to get customers in stores during the discount season.

Last year, eMarketer reported internet users in their survey were likelier to shop online during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This comes as no surprise to anyone who’s been watching retail stores crumble as online shopping continues to dominate the market.

To lure in shoppers, physical stores must come up with deals so alluring that people would kill for them.

Literally. I just googled “did anyone die on Black Friday last year” and found out that there’s a handy site called Black Friday Death Count. The answer is yes, some people died last year in Black Friday-related incidents, and in fact two of the three deaths took place at separate Walmarts.

So that makes this year’s disturbingly early foray into deal hunting even less enticing.

While I don’t hold Thanksgiving sacred by any means, moving the even unholier Black Friday back to impede on a holiday is ludicrous. But a handful of heroes are saying no seriously guys, we’re not doing this.

Over fifty retailers are collectively putting their foot down, and will remain closed on Thanksgiving Day. While some may still be party to next-day discounts, they’re at least taking a stand.

Here’s a list of all the places you can’t go on Thanksgiving, because mercifully they’re closed:

  • A.C. Moore
  • Abt Electronics
  • Academy Sports + Outdoors
  • At Home
  • BJ’s Wholesale Club
  • Blain’s Farm and Fleet
  • Burlington
  • Cabela’s
  • Cost Plus World Market
  • Costco
  • Craft Warehouse
  • Crate and Barrel
  • DSW – Designer Shoe Warehouse
  • Ethan Allen
  • Gardner-White Furniture
  • Guitar Center
  • H&M
  • Half Price Books
  • Harbor Freight
  • Hobby Lobby
  • Home Depot
  • HomeGoods
  • Homesense
  • IKEA
  • JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores
  • Jos. A. Bank
  • La-Z-Boy (all corporately owned stores)
  • Lowe’s
  • Marshalls
  • Mattress Firm
  • Micro Center
  • Music & Arts
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Office Depot and OfficeMax
  • Outdoor Research (closed Black Friday too)
  • P.C. Richard & Son
  • Party City
  • Patagonia
  • Petco
  • PetSmart
  • Pier 1 Imports
  • Publix
  • Raymour & Flanigan Furniture
  • Sam’s Club
  • Sierra Trading Post
  • Sportsman’s Warehouse
  • Sprint (Corporate & Dealer Owned Stores; Mall Kiosks May Open)
  • Staples
  • Sur La Table
  • The Container Store
  • The Original Mattress Factory
  • TJ Maxx
  • Tractor Supply
  • Trollbeads
  • Von Maur
  • West Marine

And while that’s a pretty hefty list, the fact remains that many unfortunate employees will have to show up to work on Thanksgiving when they should be taking naps, or avoiding helping their family clean up after lunch.

Thinking about some retailers’ decision to open a day early for Black Friday almost makes Cards Against Humanity’s crowdfunded hole stunt last year seem reasonable. Maybe if we’re lucky, the tradition of Black Friday will get sucked up in a black hole, never to plague us again.

I guess staying home is also an option. If you opt into the shopping this year, stay safe. And if you choose to do so on Thanksgiving, maybe just don’t tell anyone.

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