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Opinion Editorials

AG shutters Agent/Genius

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agentgeniusAgent/Genius holds a lot of history

Fully 9,000 articles still live here on this site, along with hundreds of thousands of comments, and so much meaning in every single one of them. We have accomplished so much in the real estate industry. We launched REBarCamp right here, and we took on NAR, vendors, crappy antiquated products sold to agents, and we ushered in a new era of technology in an industry. There were so many flame wars that we literally had ’round the clock debates about the future of the industry. Many of the changes we argued for, members take for granted today as normal. We certainly didn’t personally change an industry, but we challenged an industry to change itself, and we give that credit to those who took on that challenge.

Going back through the early pages of Agent/Genius, especially 2007-2008, at one time we provided a platform for hundreds of writers, up to 90 at one time, many of whom we still call dear friends, and that you’ve probably seen on stage. If you search “Twitter 101” here on AGBeat and read the comments, you’ll witness the very first Twitter article ever written to the real estate industry, and see many recognizable names, and you might be surprised at some of their comments. The same goes for Facebook and many other social tools. To me it’s quite moving – they were awesome times. We were even awarded an Inman Innovator Award in 2008 that still graces my office.

I can remember when we first hit 50k readers a month, I had to hire Lani to help herd all of the cats that were writing for us, and I recall Jonathan Dalton writing “Behold the Mega Blog” just after we became a real brand with our iconic orange that you still see today in our current logo and theme on The American Genius (minus our running man logo with the slogan “are you keeping up?”)

Agent/Genius was never about me, or the individual voices here, it was always about our readers – hence my dismay at signing autographs at the Inman Conference in San Francisco; I was both honored and terrified at the same time.

I could write all day about the beautiful memories we have of Agent/Genius, but right now, we’re looking ahead. The American Genius is who we are, again, the first to see a problem in the real estate industry, and bring in other industries, who share the common identities outside of their titles, that identity being entrepreneurs. You deserved a news publication that wrote to you and still writes to you as professionals. If you read AG, then you were likely the first to know that Gowalla was shuttering, and that Facebook had snatched them up at the last minute. We’ve cut our teeth on so many stories that you heard here first, only to watch jealous competitors regurgitate the story and fail to give us our due credit or attribution (which still happens today, three times just in the past two weeks).

Taking on business has been an immense challenge worth fighting, but it couldn’t be done properly by fighting the politics of the industry in which we were born, here in the pages of The American Genius. You deserve better.

So as you see, the Agent/Genius flag is being lowered, but not out of defeat, but because we won – we’re bigger, better, and stronger than ever, and what’s coming in the very near future from us will be even greater. The American Genius raises the bar for the professionals we have served from day one, and although our growth left some behind that love the fight and fodder of insider politics, those things have no place here on The American Genius. We’ll still cover economics, housing, indicators, and commercial real estate that real estate pros should be sharing with their audience, knowing it’s truthful, accurate, and that we are typically first to publish. That’s been our mission, because our real estate, and entrepreneurial family deserves the news now, as do our nearly 5 million other readers.

I should have written this to you two years ago, but I wasn’t ready to let go. And for that, I am sorry. We’re not done with real estate, no, we’ve grown a lot, and we see publishing in the real estate space in a new light, and we’re about to turn those lights on for you.

And with that cryptic message, Agent/Genius signs off the air today, but The American Genius Network begins.

Thank you so much for eight wonderful years, for adapting, and for your strong support of The American Genius.

Founder, Publisher, and humbly yours,
Benn Rosales

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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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Robert Drummer

    April 7, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Looking forward to the next chapter.

  2. Roberta Murphy

    April 7, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Heart was first caught in throat, then it soared. LOVE AMERICAN GENIUS! It is needed now, more than ever.

  3. Matt Stigliano - @rerockstar

    April 7, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Farewell AgentGenius. You were my introduction to who I wanted to be in real estate and helped guide me and shape me – both as a news source and a starting point. You introduced me to some fantastic people and gave me tons to think about. I’m honored to have been a writer with you, a trek that helped kick start my love of and understanding of the world of blogging. I will always be thankful for the countless hours you entertained, informed, and debated with me. Whatever may be coming, you will never be replaced.

    • agbenn

      April 7, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      An original AG old school throw back

  4. jay clarendon

    April 7, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    For those of us who led the industry in hardcore real estate blogging back in 2006-2007 we will always have sweet memories of Benn and Lani and AG.

    Can’t wait to see what’s next.

  5. Doug Francis

    April 7, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    I remember reading every article in 2009 and thinking, “wow, there is a lot that I need to learn…” Thank you writers of Agent Genius for helping me understand the potential of reaching consumers on the Interweb. Thank you, thank you!

  6. Eric Sachs

    April 7, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Several years ago you ran a story about our new, unheard of start up. It was a great moment for us and helped us launch our company and we are forever grateful. We love what you do and the voice you bring to the real estate industry. So, THANK YOU and we can’t wait to see where you go with American Genius.

  7. Ken Brand

    April 8, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Congratulations and Thank You for all you’ve done for so many. Personally and professionally, your impact on my success has been LARGE and lasting. Long live the King AG, All hail the new King, American Genius. Benn and Lani, thank you, speed, grace and success.

  8. lorennason

    April 8, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Congratulations. Excited to keep reading as the chapters unfold.

  9. Gwen Banta

    April 8, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    I’m happy for your leap forward, yet a bit emotional about letting go of the past. Thank you for everything – especially for being the skippers of my R.E. boat. You kept me on course, and I will follow my captains…

  10. Brandon Alderete

    April 8, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Y’all are the best.

  11. Jon Aston

    April 8, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Congrats on both past and future successes. XOJA.

  12. Ben Martin

    April 8, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    While I was never an agent, and certainly never a genius, I’m proud to have once been affiliated with AG. I’ll be in ATX in a few weeks. Let’s meet up!

    • agbenn

      April 8, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      We’d love to carve out some time! We’ll reach out for your itinerary.

  13. Lenore Wilkas

    April 8, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    You will be missed but I’m looking forward to the new version.

  14. Missy Caulk

    April 10, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Awesome for you and Lani, you are always ahead of the game. Thank you for training me in so many ways. Lani, the little bit of html I learned. Ha! Your wisdom and advice. So now that it is American Genius my question is, is that sorta like America Exceptionalism?

    “Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans – born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace.”John F. Kennedy

    • agbenn

      April 10, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      It’s exactly American Exceptionalism! We both love you dearly Missy, thank you so much for your contributions to the industry, and your unwavering friendship with Lani and I. You’re the best!

  15. John Lynch

    April 10, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    Just feels like AG has always evolved in a direction that fit my need for information and challenges…. from real estate and to topics on small business. A helpful place for entrepreneurs, great content, and I will enjoy the evolution of your Genius. Cheers!

  16. Gabe Sanders

    April 12, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Looking forward to your evolution to a better place.

  17. agbenn

    April 12, 2014 at 10:37 am

    You’ll still get that here, just minus one industries politics. 🙂

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Opinion Editorials

New USPS duck-shaped truck design has mixed reactions

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) The USPS is getting a fleet of electronic delivery vehicles. We’re wondering if the actual design got lost in the mail.

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New USPS truck in a fictional neighborhood delivering mail.

So the USPS is getting new trucks and they look like ducks and maybe that sucks… or maybe it wucks. Like “works,” if a duck said it. Just give me this one please.

Anyway.

I don’t know how mean I can be here – there has to be something said for objective journalistic integrity – but I have a feeling most people are going to have a rather sarcastic reaction to the new design. I’m not so sure I can blame them – it has a kind of stubby little nose with a shortened hood and a boxy frame and super tall windshield, which gives the wheels a disproportionately large look compared to the rest of the silhouette. It’s sort of like a Nissan Cube but less millennial cool, which A) is discontinued (so maybe not so cool), and B) is not the car that had those giant hiphop hamsters running around, but I’m still going to link to it anyway.

Elon Musk must be breathing a sigh of relief right now.

The contract was awarded to Oshkosh Defense (which I was thrilled to find out is NOT the adorable kid’s clothing company, even though I personally think that would be hilarious if there was a factory making overalls for tiny humans alongside tactical defense trucks) and officially announced on February 23rd, 2021 to the tune of $482 million. Seriously though, someone is going to mix those up for the rest of all time and eternity; I’d never not think about my own baby pictures if some contractor from Oshkosh Defense showed up.

The release mentions that, “The historic investment is part of a soon-to-be-released plan the Postal Service has developed to transform its financial performance and customer service over the next 10 years through significant investments in people, technology and infrastructure as it seeks to become the preferred delivery service provider for the American public.” It’s called the NGDV – Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, which I happen to adore, and will pronounce as Nugduv, and you can’t stop me anyway. The old one was called the Grumman, by the way.

Some credit this as a radical change, and keeping in mind that radical doesn’t necessarily denote positive or negative, it seems like the perfect word to use here. Then there are those who correctly identify “a mixed bag of responses,” sort of like when you get a bag of candy at Halloween that has at least one thing no one likes. Some call it strange, while others defend it as something every new big vehicle should look like (this is where – as one of many – I found it called a “duck” which oh man do I love, quack quack).

We can also hit up the ever fair public opinion of Twitter, because why wouldn’t we?

JavaScript is not available.

This is how I would draw a car. That is not a plus for this design

I really can’t get over that last one. But I mean, whoa. That’s quite the spectrum. There’s less disagreement on pizza toppings I think. But luckily I think we’re safe there – Domino’s makes people drive their personal cars.

Taking a step back and putting snide commentary away for a moment, there’s some areas that should be discussed. First – and what should probably be obvious – there was a laundry list of requirements and restrictions from the USPS, which made Nir Kahn – design director from custom carmaker Plasan – offer up his own tweets that give some insight on dimensions and design:

JavaScript is not available.

I was involved in an early proposal for the USPS truck so I know the requirements well. They pretty much dictated the proportions – this package sketch shows that to meet the ergonomic and size requirements, there wasn’t much freedom 1/2 #USPS pic.twitter.com/Fk35g98Z83

Kahn mentions that “there wasn’t much freedom,” but also that “it could have looked much better,” and this sort of underlines the entire discussion I think – there were goals in place, and possibly some more aesthetically pleasing ways to meet them, but the constraints won out and drove (hehe) the design more than style did.

Certainly, there are other concerns – the ability for USPS drivers to reach a mailbox while seated is paramount. Others have pointed out that this design – with its large windshield and shortened front – should help with safety around small children (all the better if they are wearing Oshkosh B’gosh, because that implies they are tiny and may not be at all concerned with the dangers of streets). The open field-of-vision will aid in making sure drivers can navigate places that might be frequented by any number of pedestrians, so that’s a plus.

Further, if you get struck by one of these, you’ll basically “just” get kneecapped versus taking it square to the torso. The duck article is the one making this call, and I think there’s some merit there (though it makes me question how the USPS fleet is going to do against the SUVs and big trucks out in the wild). It then goes on to point out that this design has more cargo space, fitting into the idea of “rightsizing,” where the form and function of the vehicle meet in a way that is downsized, but still punches above its weight.

“From smaller fire engines to nimbler garbage trucks, making vehicles better scaled to urban tasks can make a huge difference, not only for keeping other cars moving on narrow streets, but also to ensure that humans on those same streets can access the bike lanes, sidewalks, and curb cuts they need to get around.”

I didn’t try too hard to find stats on crashes in mail trucks, but seems like something that should be addressed.

Maybe the biggest point here is that we sort of have to get new trucks – they are outliving their 24 year expectancy and catching on fire. On FIRE. I mean a mail truck might be the worst place for a fire. I’m not even sure I can’t think up a better answer… Ok maybe toilets would be worse.

The new vehicles can be either petrol or electric powered, have 360 cameras, airbags, and automatic braking. Oh, and air conditioning, which the old vehicles did not have. So yes, literally the worst place to have a fire. But due to the taller vehicles, someone can stand in them now! So escape is even easier! Hooray!

A series of delays pushed back the introduction of new vehicles from their 2018 projected date, with poor initial prototypes and the pandemic being major setbacks. Aggressive bidding led to extended deadlines, which had been narrowed down to a small list of candidates that included Workhorse (who unfortunately suffered a large stock plunge following the announcement). It’s been in the works for at least six years.

In the end, I don’t think we can discount all the advantages here – more efficient vehicles that are safer and provide drivers with modern amenities. That’s a LOT of good. I think once the initial goofy shock is over, the design will be accepted. Everyone thought Nintendo’s Wii was a hilarious name (still pretty much is regardless of being in the public book of acceptable nomenclature), and Cybertruck sales are brisk, so I think we can set a lot of this aside. The Edsel these are not.

So hey, new USPS vehicles in 2023, like an exceedingly late birthday present. All I want to see is a bunch of baby ducks following one of them around oh please let that happen. The USPS kind of has an identity crisis in the modern era, so maybe a funny little cute silly boxmobile is just the right way to get some attention.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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decluttering

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, or an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

Online dating is evolving and maybe networking will too

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has the online dating industry been disrupted during the pandemic? And can we apply a few pointers from this evolved model to networking?

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Woman networking through Zoom video call with two other women.

We are often reminded that hindsight is 20/20 – a proverb that means “it is easy to understand something after it has already happened”, and how ironic that is since we are in the year 2020 and not sure we can fully comprehend all we are learning and what hindsight this will bring.

Reflecting back to six months ago, there were many of us that didn’t have much of a clue about what the rest of 2020 would look like and how we would have to adjust to a more virtual world. We’ve updated our ways of working, connecting with colleagues, socializing with friends, networking with those in our industry, or looking for a new job.

Microsoft suggested that we have seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in about five months. For example: MS Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet have become the new way to host networking sessions, work meetings, and “chats” with colleagues; Tele-med appointments became the norm for routine or non-911 emergency doctor appointments; curbside pickup at grocery stores and food to-go orders via online ordering became the new normal (they existed before but saw tremendous growth in number of users).

We also had to learn how to create engaging and interactive ways to connect solely through a screen. We are already Zoom fatigued and wondering how online meetings have zapped our energy so differently than in person. It turns out, looking at ourselves and trying to talk to a group is a lot for our brains to process.

The Atlantic shares a great article about why the Zoom social life might feel so draining, saying that “Attempting to translate your old social habits to Zoom or FaceTime is like going vegetarian and proceeding to glumly eat a diet of just tofurkey”. No offense to vegetarians, of course.

You could argue though, that we’ve all been interacting via screens for years with the dominance of social media channels – whether it was posting our thoughts in 140 characters on Twitter, or sharing photos and videos of our artisanal sandwiches/cute kid/pet pictures on Facebook. But this seems different. Times are different and we will not be going back soon.

In this interim, many people are trying to make the best of the situation and are figuring out ways to connect. We will always need human connection (and without the germs, even better).

What about our single friends? If they don’t have anyone in the house to already drive them crazy, then where can they go to meet new people and/or possibly love interests?

While many experts are trying to predict the outcomes of this global shift, it may be hard to know what will change permanently. We know many industries are experiencing major disruptions – online dating apps being one of them.

According to Digital Trends, Tinder still ranks as one of the top dating apps. However, now that people are sheltering in place and/or social distancing, there’s a new app taking over as a way to “meet” someone a little faster, while also allowing you to stay behind the screen, sans mask.

Slide is a video dating app that changes your first-date frustrations into real connections and instant chemistry. Explore video profiles, go on first dates via Video Calls at your fingertips, and find that chemistry before dating IRL.”

So, while Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge play quarantine catch-up, Slide is stealing their market share.

How? With video.

Slide recognized the massive success of short-form video platforms like TikTok, and have translated it to dating. They focus on features like:

  • “Vibe Check”, which gives you the option to video chat immediately after matching with someone to see if there’s chemistry. This will save you from long or misinterpreted text conversations and money you may have spent on that first date.
  • A video-first approach that lets you see the real people behind the profiles so you can pass if they aren’t really who they say they are.
  • AI-assisted creation of “future bae” profiles that help suggest your best matches and spare you extra swipes. If Netflix can find similar suggestions…

As of August 2020, the Department of Labor and Statistics estimates about 13.6 million people are currently unemployed and searching for a new j-o-b. Is it possible that some of these newer ways of connecting online could be included in how we network for a new job/career opportunity?

For example, instead of sending a connection or networking request on LinkedIn, what if we could send a quick video about our story, or what we’d love to learn from that person, or how we’d like to connect?

Would that create a faster, better, possibly more genuine connection?

This would seem worth exploring as many job connections are created by in-person networking or reaching real people vs. solely online applications, behind a screen. Some other formats that have seen increased use are Marco Polo for video chats (you don’t have to both be available at the same time) and FaceTime group calls.

It might be worth exploring how short-form video platforms could assist job seekers in networking, outreach, and connecting with others. These are just some ideas as we continue to watch this digital transformation unfold.

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