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Opinion Editorials

15 Gas Saving Tips for Agents

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Gas got your tounge?

In these times when everything from apples to zucchini is going up, and you need a small loan to fill up the tank, we’re all looking for money saving tips. Here are a few to get you started:

Consolidate your travel

If you service your own listings, set aside a day of the week for exactly that task.  My day is on Sunday, this keeps me from sitting long periods in traffic.

Order office supplies online to be picked up at the store.  This forces you to create a great list of needed items and gives you a shot at grabbing any forgotten items there at the store in one trip.

If you have an appointment to show property, try to schedule other tasks in the same area of town for the same day. 

Narrow your daily hours of operation.  Your day in the home office should begin during normal business times, but leaving the house should not happen until after morning rush hour and you should be home before the afternoon rush hour.  All driving tasks should be scheduled between these times.

Have lunch during off peak times- avoid the lines and the traffic.

Do your banking on Saturday morning.  Avoid the long evening lines, and by all means avoid the drive-thru.  Time saving is not always a money saving.

Fit shopping and errands into your round trip.  If you are off to an appointment, allot time to make stops on the way to and from to make necessary stops. 

Avoid rush hour at your destinations, and it is always a good idea to call ahead to ask when is peak and off peak times for regular stops.

Take the tollway whenever possible, but avoid driving at top speed.  Drive 5 miles an hour under the speed limit to reduce the amount of wear on your vehicle and improve your overall gas mileage.

Optimize your vehicle

Once a month make sure you evaluate the pressure in your tires, this is one of the most commonly overlooked areas in which to assure you’re getting the best gas mileage.

Quarterly maintenance is crucial.  Have your wheels checked for proper balance and alignment, as well as changing your oil regularly.  Never wait until the sticker expires in your window, make it routine.

Drive with the windows up but the air temperature at a higher setting.  This will reduce the amount of compressor usage, and reduce wind resistance on your vehicle.

Remove unnecessary weight from your car.  The golf clubs, or the extra signs are not items you should drag around in your trunk.  They weigh your vehicle down creating drag that decreases fuel economy.

 Avoid the Pumps

Many folks allow the tank to run dry and then fill completely up, but we suggest keeping your car at 1/2 full at all times.  By reducing the weight of the fuel carried, you’re reducing not only wear on your vehicle but reducing drag on your car, thus burning less fuel.  Also, staying at 1/2 full all the time keeps cash in your pocket by avoiding price spikes and spending large amounts of cash at fill up.  You’re also doing right by the environment by not filling up and leaving gas at the pump equating to less demand overall- there’s a million of us nationwide, and as a group we can make a huge difference in demand.

We can appreciate the need for higher income agents to drive a vehicle deserving of their income and status, but is it really necessary?  It is totally chic to go economy and lose the Texas sized Caddy or the Mothership Mercedes.  There are many luxury hybrids or more fuel efficient vehicles on the market right now that will not only help the environment, reduce oil dependence, but will also gain you a respect from your clients and peers on a much deeper level because you’re leading by example.

Who would have thought a Green Agent was really just an Agent with common sense?  Altough many agents around the country see gasoline as a cost of doing business, and can afford it, many consumers cannot. Agentgenius.com is asking all agents to lead by example because it is the right thing to do-  Encourage your peers, write about it on your site, offer tips to your readers, and by all means share your ideas to reduce fuel usage in your own business.

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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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Jim Duncan

    May 20, 2008 at 11:30 am

    I bought a bike yesterday. I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to fully implement it into my business (note to the IRS – but I am).

    If only for going to lunches in town or to listings a couple of miles from my house, it should help save a few bucks. Right now, every dollar counts.

  2. Mariana

    May 20, 2008 at 11:46 am

    This is awesome! I love the gas talk half full/half empty concept.

    We just got rid of our 4-door Ram Truck in favor of a nice, red Jeep. MUCH better on gas. I also moved and now (luckily) live close to the cheapest gas station in the city – on average 10cents cheaper than other stations.

    Like you, I also service my listings once a week – same day. I drive around either between 9-2 and/or after 5pm. I also double book myself with errands on my way.

  3. Candy Lynn

    May 20, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    My F250 4 door 4×4 diesel truck always added a certain credibility to my horse property clients but I’m changing from big truck to Hyundai Santa Fe driver. Traded in the truck yesterday, sad day.

    Its part of my effort to be more “green”. I am also selling large gooseneck horse trailer that requires large truck to pull in favor of purchasing an European style trailer designed to be pulled with smaller vehicles.

    I love the whole concept but it sure feels strange not having a big load truck to drive around in.

  4. Teresa Boardman

    May 20, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Here are some outside of the box ideas that have cut my gasoline expenses way down:

    Drive a fuel efficient Vehicle, mid sized or smaller.
    Work close to home – most of my listings are within walking distance.
    Say no to listings that are far away.
    Limit your service area for buyers.

  5. Art

    May 20, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    This is just silly. The amount we spend on gas is so small compared to total cost of running a business. If you keep your tank 1/2 full you just waste more time (time has value) at the pump. How about eating less. That will not only save world resources but save on gas for transportation of the food and you’ll weigh less and use less gas.

  6. Jon Griffith

    May 26, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    I wasn’t aware of how much gas I was burning because of my driving style. I recently sold my ’98 Toyota Tacoma which commanded a 16 gallon price tag every fill-up and only managed to cough out a measly 17 miles/gallon. With older technology installed in the truck, I wasn’t able to see how my driving habits affected the potential savings I was missing out on.

    Now that I have a new 2008 Honda CR-V, I can watch at any given moment what my current MPG consumption rate is, and the speed at which I accelerate from a stop and drive on the highway are evident in real-time. Now, I’m quickly learning when to let up on the gas pedal and when to give it a go. I have been able to commute on the highways at above 30 MPG just by slowing down. I always thought it was ridiculous that driving slower saved fuel because I factored in the additional time the engine was burning fuel. What I didn’t know was that the increase in wind resistance as you drive faster and faster is exponential, and the difference between 65 and 75 MPH is far greater than the difference between 55 and 65. So sacrificing that extra bit of speed is making up for itself at the pump.

    However, one challenge is to actually gauge the benefit based on a steady fuel price between fill ups. This is the wrong planet to attend on a daily basis if one wishes to see gas prices remain at a certain level for more than a week. 🙂

  7. Vancouver Real Estate

    May 26, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    These are great gas saving tips. Any savings are good to have. But, what is beyond $4.00 a gallon gas? i.e.: once we arrive at optimal savings and feel we have adjusted our budgets to the new reality what do we cut out or change once gas hits $6.00 to $8.00 a gallon?

  8. Benn Rosales

    May 27, 2008 at 7:54 am

    @Vancouver the best position is a total reduction nation wide for demand- anyone that was privy to the mid 80s has seen this movie.

    It’s funny, last night (about 6-7ish) I was driving down I-35 coming home from the movies at 60 mph, bare in mind last night was the night everyone has to be home to prepare for the work week.

    Now anyone that knows anything about the United States knows doing 60 mph on I-35 at the end of a holiday knows that that is next to impossible, but the fact is, no one was on the road. Nor were they there Thursday, Friday, Saturday, nor Sunday and that tells me, people remained local this Holiday weekend for the most part- the reduction in demand is already happening and will translate in the coming months.

    Now, I realize that my study is not scientific, but I am a study of behavior and habit, and 60 mph on I-35 was definately a new habit/behavior to behold- I was at the airport Sunday as well and Austin International was a ghost town- I noticed AAA said travel would only be down slightly, I have a feeling they’ll be making an adjustment in that figure shortly or they’re lying through their teeth.

    Last evening I was at a gas station in front of our local grocer on the way home- cheapest gas on the block- no cars in the bays.

    Demand is going down and maybe we’ve all adopted new habits a long the way that will keep it down- I know our family has, regardless, we’re doing the best we can to do our part.

  9. MikeBike

    September 26, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    If you are trying to save as much money as you can, by not putting it all into your gas tank, a motor cycle is a good idea. But it worries me with all the motor cycle related deaths. I have a pocket bike that i have a lot of fun on, but i guess that is not any safer.

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Opinion Editorials

Why robots freak us out, and what it means for the future of AI

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Robots and humans have a long way to go before the social divide disappears, but research is giving us insight on how to cross the uncanny valley.

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Close of R2D2 toy, an example of robots that we root for, but why?

We hate robots. Ok, wait, back up. We at least think they are more evil than good. Try it yourself – “are robots” in Google nets you evil before good. Megatron has higher SEO than Optimus Prime, and it’s not just because he’s so much cooler. It cuz he evil, cuz. It do be like that.

It’s not even a compliment to call someone robotic; society connotes this to emotionless preprogrammed shells of hideous nothing, empty clankbags that walk and talk and not much else. So, me at a party. Or if you’re a nerd, you’re a robot. (Me at a party once again.)

Let’s start by assuming robots as human-like bipedal machines that are designed with some amount of artificial intelligence, generally designed to fulfill a job to free up humanity from drudgery. All sounds good so far. So why do they creep us out?

There’s a litany of reasons why, best summed up with the concept of the uncanny valley, first coined by roboticist Masahiro Mori (Wow he’s still alive! The robots have not yet won) in 1970. Essentially, we know what a human is and how it looks and behaves against the greater backdrop of life and physics. When this is translated to a synthetic being, we are ok with making a robot look and act like us to a point, where we then notice all the irregularities and differences.

Most of these are minor – unnaturally smooth or rigid movements, light not scattering properly on a surface, eyes that don’t sync up quite right when they blink, and several other tiny details. Lots of theories take over at this point about why this creeps us out. But a blanket way to think about it is that our expectation doesn’t match what we are seeing; the reality we’re presented with is off just enough and this makes us uncomfortable .

Ever stream a show and the audio is a half second off? Makes you really annoyed. Magnify that feeling by a thousand and you’re smack in the middle of the uncanny valley. It’s that unnerving. One possible term for this is abjection, which is what happens the moment before we begin to fear something. Our minds – sensing incompatibility with robots – know this is something else, something other , and faced with no way to categorize this, we crash.

This is why they make good villains in movies – something we don’t understand and given free will and autonomy, potentially imbued with the bias of a creator or capable of forming terrifying conclusions all on its own (humans are a virus). But they also make good heroes, especially if they are cute or funny. Who doesn’t love C3PO? That surprise that they are good delights us. Build in enough appeal to a robot, and we root for them and feel empathy when they are faced with hardships. Do robots dream of electric sheep? Do robots have binary souls? Bits and zeros and ones?

Professor Jaime Banks (Texas Tech University’s College of Media & Communication) spends a lot of time thinking about how we perceive robots. It’s a complex and multifaceted topic that covers anthropomorphism, artificial intelligence, robot roles within society, trust, inherently measuring virtue versus evil, preconceived notions from entertainment, and numerous topics that cover human-robot interactions.

The world is approaching a future where robots may become commonplace; there are already robot bears in Japan working in the healthcare field. Dressing them up with cute faces and smiles may help, but one jerky movement later and we’ve dropped all suspension.

At some point, we have to make peace with the idea that they will be all over the place. Skynet, GLaDOS in Portal, the trope of your evil twin being a robot that your significant will have to shoot in the middle of your fight, that episode of Futurama where everything was a robot and they rose up against their human masters with wargod washing machines and killer greeting cards, the other Futurama episode where they go to a planet full of human hating murderous robots… We’ve all got some good reasons to fear robots and their coded minds.

But as technology advances, it makes sense to have robots take over menial tasks, perform duties for the needy and sick, and otherwise benefit humanity at large. And so the question we face is how to build that relationship now to help us in the future.

There’s a fine line between making them too humanlike versus too mechanical. Pixar solved the issue of unnerving humanoids in their movies by designing them stylistically – we know they are human and accept that the figure would look odd in real life. We can do the same with robots – enough familiarity to develop an appeal, but not enough to erase the divide between humanity and robot. It may just be a question of time and new generations growing up with robots becoming fixtures of everyday life. I’m down for cyborgs too.

Fearing them might not even be bad, as Banks points out: “…a certain amount of fear can be a useful thing. Fear can make us think critically and carefully and be thoughtful about our interactions, and that would likely help us productively engage a world where robots are key players.”

Also, check out Robot Carnival if you get the chance – specifically the Presence episode of the anthology.

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Opinion Editorials

BIPOC Gen Zers are using TikTok to create cultural awareness

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) TikTok has become a platform for younger generations to share their cultures, paving the way for a more inclusive society. And they’re doing it one 15 second video at a time.

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Black person's hands holding a phone loading TikTok above a wooden table.

When scrolling on TikTok, you might come across this question posed by a BIPOC creator (Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color): “How old were you when you realized you weren’t ugly, you just lived in a predominantly White space?”

Growing up in predominantly White spaces myself with immigrant parents from the Middle East, I had a warped perspective of beauty. Straight light hair, fair skin, Western features, a stick-thin figure – I internalized my physical otherness as lack.

It wasn’t until I moved to a diverse city for college that I realized this. I saw others speaking different languages, eating ethnic foods and dressing however they wanted without fear of losing their proximity to Whiteness. Exposure to others who didn’t fit “the mold” was transformative for me.

As someone in their mid-twenties, I came of age with social media like Tumblr, Facebook and, ultimately, Instagram. But I’d be lying to you if I said that I didn’t wish TikTok was around when I was a kid.

For reference, most TikTok users are between 16-24, meaning that many are still in high school. While content on TikTok is really all over the place and specifically catered to your preferences (you can feel the algorithums at work as your scroll), one facet that I find integral to the app’s essence is Gen Z proudly showcasing their cultures – aka #culturecheck.

Besides the countless ethnic food tutorials (some of my favorite content on the app!), fashion has become a main way for BIPOC or immigrant TikTokers to fully express their identities and share their culture with other users on the app, regardless of physical location.

Take the #FashionEdit challenge, where creators lip sync to a mash-up of Amine’s “Caroline” and “I Just Did a Bad Thing” by Bill Wurtz as they transform from their everyday Western clothes into that of their respective culture.

In her famous video, Milan Mathew – the creator attributed to popularizing this trend – sits down in a chair. She edits the clip in such a way that as she sits, her original outfit switches to a baby-pink lehenga and she becomes adorned with traditional Indian jewelry. Denise Osei does the same, switching into tradition Ghanaian dress. If you can think of a culture or ethnicity, chances are they are represented in this TikTok trend.

This past Indigenous People’s Day, James Jones’ videos went viral across various social media platforms, as he transformed into his traditional garments and performed tribal dances.

Though the cultures and respective attire they showcase are unique in each video, the energy is all the same: proud and beautiful. Showing off what your culture wears has become a way to gain clout on the app and inspire others to do the same.

The beautiful thing about cultural/ethnic TikTok is that it isn’t just Mexicans cheering for other Mexicans, or Arabs cheering for other Arabs – the app sustains a general solidarity across racial and ethnic lines while cultivating an appreciation of world cultures.

But just how deep does that appreciation go? Some users think (and I agree) that “liking” a video of an attractive creator in traditional dress is hardly a radical move in dismantling notions of Western beauty.

While TikTok trends might not solve these issues entirely, it’s important to note that they are moving things in the right directions – I certainly never saw anything like this when I was growing up.

For whatever reason, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers seem to have a lot of shade to throw at Gen Z. But one thing is for certain – this young generation is paving the way for a more inclusive, more respectful society, which is something we should all get behind. And they’re doing it one 15 second video at a time.

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Opinion Editorials

This website is like Pinterest for WFH desk setups

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) If you’ve been working from home at the same, unchanged desk setup, it may be time for an upgrade. My Desk Tour has the inspiration you need.

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Man browsing desk setups on My Desk Tour

Whether you’re sitting, standing, or reclining your way through the pandemic, you’re most likely doing it from home these days. You’re also probably contending with an uninspired desk configuration hastily cobbled together in March, which—while understandable—might be bringing you down. Fortunately, there’s an easy, personable solution to spark your creativity: My Desk Tour.

My Desk Tour is a small website started by Jonathan Cai. On this site, you will find pictures of unique and highly customized desk setups; these desk configurations range from being optimized for gamers to coders to audiophiles, so there’s arguably something for everyone—even if you’re just swinging by to drool for a bit.

Cai also implements a feature in which site users can tag products seen in desk photos with direct links to Amazon so you don’t have to poke around the Internet for an hour in search of an obscure mouse pad. This is something Cai initially encountered on Reddit and, after receiving guidance from various subreddits on the issue of which mouse to purchase, he found the inspiration to create My Desk Tour.

The service itself is pretty light—the landing page consists of a few desk setup photos and a rotating carousel of featured configurations—but it has great potential to grow into a desk-focused social experience of sorts.

It’s also a great place to drop in on if you’re missing the extra level of adoration for your desk space that a truly great setup invokes. Since most people who have been working from home since the spring didn’t receive a ton of advance notice, it’s reasonable to assume that the majority of folks have resigned themselves to a boring or inefficient desk configuration. With a bit of inspiration from My Desk Tour, that can change overnight.

Of course, some of the desk options featured on the site are a bit over the top. One configuration boasts dual ultra-wide monitors stacked atop each other, and another shows off a monitor flanked by additional vertical monitors—presumably for the sake of coding. If you’re scrambling to stay employed, such a setup might be egregious.

If you’re just looking for a new way to orient your workspace for the next few months, though, My Desk Tour is worth a visit.

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