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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
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Jennifer Stauss Windrum

jennifer stauss windrum smac monkeys[dropcap style=”style1″]I[/dropcap]f you live in Omaha, Nebraska, you probably remember Jennifer Stauss Windrum as a news reporter on Channel 3, but if you live anywhere else, you may know her now as the founder of SMAC! Sock Monkeys Against Cancer, which provides tangible support to those battling cancer.

You can read about her massive professional accomplishments on LinkedIn, but she has influenced us and many to focus on the philanthropic opportunities all around us. She’s an accomplished social media expert, but has inspired many to focus on cancer victims.

“Cancer can be a very lonely existence,” Windrum says. “Family and friends can’t always be there. My Mom lived more than 1,200 miles away, making her appointments, tests, scan results and treatments that much harder for both of us. This is why I created SMAC! — to give Mom a “buddy” she could hug to remind her that I am with her.”

When you buy one SMAC! monkey, a second is given to a cancer patient to remind them that they’re not alone. Other charities are already following her lead, influenced by her grit and determination.

Jenny Lawson

jenny lawson[dropcap style=”style1″]I[/dropcap]f you don’t have a sense of humor, don’t follow Jenny Lawson. Don’t check out her book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – a Mostly True Memoir, and whatever you do, do not read her blog.

Lawson used to write for the Houston Chronicle but said she needed somewhere that didn’t censor her, that let her talk about ninjas, and lets her cuss. So she built her own place, and now graces stages across the nation. Lawson has inspired a generation of bloggers to let their hair down and to allow their sense of humor show. Thanks for making the f-bomb more acceptable, Jenny!

Kami Watson Huyse

kami watson huyse public relations social media expert[dropcap style=”style1″]F[/dropcap]ounder of boutique social media marketing strategy and communication firm, Zoetica Media, Kami Watson Huyse is an extremely talented public relations veteran, practicing since 1994 and blogging since 2005.

Huyse asserts that shiny trends may come and go, but people are always looking for ways to authentically connect.

She was a 2010 fellow of the Society for New Communications Research where she pursued a study on how cause marketing in social communities can benefit companies. She is is also the cofounder and organizer of the Social Media Breakfast Houston.

Her ideas are frequently referenced by top social media strategists, and she has influenced the industry in a tremendously positive way, helping people to understand how to communicate effectively.

Laura Fitton

laura fitton[dropcap style=”style1″]B[/dropcap]est known as Pistachio on Twitter, Laura Fitton is one of the original breakout stars of Twitter, founding the first Twitter for Business consultancy (Pistachio Consulting) and has gone on to co-author Twitter for Dummies, and founded oneforty.com which was acquired by HubSpot in 2009.

She has said many times on stage that she believes that everyone can benefit – dramatically – from realtime technologies like Twitter because of their power to overcome isolation.

Fitton is an influential figure not only for being one of the first talents to recognize the value of Twitter, but for her continued efforts to help brands to understand how to be effective, yet never condescending her followers (which isn’t exactly a common trait for someone of Fitton’s caliber).

Liva Judic

liva judic[dropcap style=”style1″]A[/dropcap]s the Director of Merrybubbles Communications, a marketing and communications agency that caters primarily to the technology ecosystem, Liva Judic mentors the next great innovators to go international.

She served for four years as the Head of International Communication at the Office of President of Madagascar, and advised as part of the official delegation at the 1st World Summit On The Information Society.

Judic writes at Wired, VentureBeat, as well as ClickZ and Search Engine Watch – she knows what she’s talking about and has influenced her industry to stay on the ball, and she never lets up on pursuing the truth and illuminating the path for others.

Keep clicking for other influencers you must meet:

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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

How to conduct a proper informational interview

(CAREER) Informational interviews comprise a technique in which you ask an employer or current employee to explain the details of their job to you. Try doing this before you transition into your next occupation!

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informational interview

At some point in your career, you may ask for someone’s time to do an informational interview — a process in which a job-seeker asks questions about a field, company, or position in hopes of receiving information which will inform both their decision to go into the field and their responses to the specific job’s actual interview. Since the power dynamic in an informational interview can be confusing, here are a few tips on how to conduct one. Not how to obtain one, but how to conduct one once both parties agree to connect.

The process of an informational interview typically starts with finding a person who works in your desired field (and/or location if you have a specific company in mind) and setting up a time during which you can ask them a few questions about things like their job responsibilities, salary, prerequisites, and so on. Once you’ve set up a time to meet in person (or via Skype or phone), you can proceed with putting together a list of questions.

Naturally, you should understand the circumstances under which asking for an informational interview is appropriate before requesting one. Your goal in an informational review should be to ask questions and listen to the answers, NOT pitch yourself as a potential hire. Ever. Nobody appreciates having their time wasted, and playing on your contact’s generosity as a way into their company is a sure way for your name to end up on their blacklist.

Once you’ve set up an informational interview, you should start the conversation by asking your contact what their typical day is like. This is doubly effective: your contact will most likely welcome the opportunity to discuss their daily goings-on, and you’ll be privy to an inside glance at their perspective on things like job responsibilities, daily activities, and other positive aspects of their position.

They’ll also probably detail some drawbacks to the position — things which usually aren’t explained in job postings — so you’ll have the opportunity to make a well-informed decision vis-à-vis the rigors of the job before diving head-first into the hiring process.

After your contact finishes walking you through their day, you can begin asking specific questions. However, unless they’ve been unusually brief in their description of their duties, your best course of action is probably to ask them follow-up questions about things they’ve already mentioned rather than asking targeted questions you wrote without context. This will both indicate that you were listening and allow them to expand upon information they’ve already explained, ensuring you’ll receive well-rounded responses.

You should save the most specific questions (e.g., the most easily answered ones) for the end of the interview. For example, if you want to know what a typical salary for someone in your contact’s position is or you’re wondering about vacation time, ask after you’ve wrapped up the bulk of the interview. This will prevent you from wasting the initial moments of the interview with technical content, and it may also keep the contact from assuming a strictly material motive on your part. And be willing to ask “what does someone with your job title typically earn in [city]?” instead of their specific take-home salary which might not be reflective of the norm (plus, it’s rude, and akin to asking someone their weight).

This is also a good time to ask for general advice regarding breaking into the field, though you may want to avoid this step if you feel like your contact isn’t comfortable discussing such a topic or if you’re intending to apply as someone with experience.

Of course, you won’t always be able to meet with your preferred contact directly, especially if they work in a dynamic field (e.g., emergency services) or have a security clearance which negates their ability to answer the bulk of your questions. If this happens, you have a couple of back-up options:

1. Send an email with a list of questions to the contact, or send them your phone number with a wide-open calling schedule. This is useful if your contact has a random or on-call schedule.

2. Ask your contact if there is someone else you could connect with (it could even be their assistant).

3. Speak to the company’s HR branch to see if you can request a company-specific job requirement print-out or link. These will usually be more particular than the industry requirements. But don’t ask for something you can find yourself on the company’s Careers page online.

Nothing beats an in-person interview over a cup of coffee, but — again — wasting someone’s time isn’t a good way to receive useful information about the position in which you’re interested.

Before transitioning to your next position or career field, consider conducting an informational interview. You’ll be amazed at the amount of insider information you can glean from simply listening to someone discuss their day in detail.

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Business News

The sad truths you missed about the US Women’s Soccer Team lawsuit

(NEWS) The US Women’s Soccer team dominated headlines by suing for equal pay, but there was so much more to the lawsuit that could have a ripple effect in the business world.

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womens soccer lawsuit

Recently, on International Women’s Day, the United States Women’s Soccer Team (USWNT) filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation. The timing of the suit is not only a sign of the team continuing their decades long fight against the organization (only three months before they are set to defend their World Cup title in France), but a recognition of the symbol that they have become in the larger battle that women and other minorities are waging in order to be given the same resources as the men leading in their fields.

It should go without saying that the women’s soccer team is unparalleled in its athletic success: over the past twenty years they have won three World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals. These players, as ESPN acknowledges, are among the most accomplished and best known women athletes in the world.

Their counterpart, the Men’s National Soccer Team, leaves much to be desired (they failed to qualify for last year’s World Cup, for example) yet they consistently receive much more support from the US Soccer Federation.

Although the pay disparity between the USWNT and the male soccer team is certainly stark, the “gains” that the women athletes are fighting for go beyond monetary compensation.

According to Mashable, “This [suit] includes how women frequently play on a dangerous artificial surfaces when the men do not, fly commercial when the men travel by more convenient, comfortable charter flights, and the alleged allocation of fewer resources to promote women’s games compared to men’s.”

As if being the best players in your sport in the world and having to share hotel rooms after getting torn apart by the seams astroturf and receiving less-than-world-class medical care wouldn’t be infuriating enough, it’s truly this final point that highlights the glaring mistreatment of the USWNT.

Without support from the US Soccer Federation, not only in the form of payment but in promotion of their games and general good-will toward their players, the USWNT will not be able to grow their following so that they can establish a consistent revenue near what the men’s team attracts. This “lack” of revenue continues to create the chicken/egg excuse that the Federation has for not propping up the USWNT like they deserve.

It’s simply the opposite of “sportsmanship” for the US Soccer Federation to use these players’ love of playing the game (that, again, they are the best in the world at) and their country as a way to gaslight them into playing for less.

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Business News

Think about automating tasks instead of replacing workers

(BUSINESS) Automation is great, unless you obsess over it and try to cut down on payroll – there’s a smarter approach that successful businesses take.

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automating tasks not people

The concept of automating your workflow is a tempting one — especially as payroll continues to be one of the evergreen highest costs of business. However, in contemplating how to streamline your workflow, you may do better to step back from the idea of “replacing workers” and instead think about you can optimize your existing employees by strategically tweaking their workflow.

As Ravin Jesuthasan and John Boudreau write in The Harvard Business Review, if the goal of automating is to ensure that your company is operating at its most cost effective and efficient levels, then chances are you’d still need knowledgeable employees to help you scale and capitalize.

Where automation can truly help your business is by transforming the ability of your organization to focus on the tasks that truly require a human touch or deep knowledge. For example, automation will not help your employees perform complex, interactive, or creative work like collaborating with clients to come up with solutions or designs.

However, it can help the process of brainstorming or co-designing these solutions easier by replacing some of the mechanical tasks that aid this high-level workflow.

For example, it may be helpful to automate basic research tasks for your designers. If your designers must create a client profile to help them launch their projects — basic information must surely exist at some other point in the process before this point. Maybe your firm has an intake form or contracts where a basic description of the goal of the contracted service has been created. By automating the sharing of that data between departments, perhaps in a content management system, you’d be able to free up time that the designers might spend on basic data collection so that they could instead use it for their more complex, empathetic work.

Jesuthasan and Boudreau offer up other advice for thinking about which specific tasks within your company’s workflow are the best candidates for automation.

Is a task simple? Routine? Does it require collaboration?

These kinds of inquiry are not only useful when thinking about your organizational processes, but they are good refreshers for thinking about the individual value and skills that your organization and its workers offer clients.

So instead of looking at how to cut down on payroll, consider automation as an option to improve the value you’re getting from your team, and freeing them from mind-numbing tasks that have nothing to do with their expertise. Win-win!

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