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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

9 ways to be more LGBTQIA+ inclusive at work

(OPINION EDITORIALS) With more and more people joining the LGBTQIA+ community it’d do one well to think about ways to extend inclusiveness at work.

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LGBTQIA+ people may have won marriage equality in 2015, but this momentous victory didn’t mean that discrimination was over. Queer and LGBTQIA+ identified people still have to deal with discrimination and not being in a work environment that supports their identities.

Workplace inclusivity may sound like the hottest new business jargon term on the block, but it actually just a professional way of making sure that everyone feels like a valued team member at the office. Business psychologists have found when people are happy to go to work, they are 12 percent more productive.

Making your business environment a supportive one for the queer community means you’re respecting employees and improving their workplace experience.

Here’s nine ways you can make your workplace more inclusive for LGBTQIA+ people.

1) Learn the basics.
If you’re wanting to make your workplace more open to LGBTQIA+ people, it’s best to know what you’re talking about. Firstly, the acronym LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual and the plus encompassing other identities not named; there are many variants on the acronym. Sexual orientations (like lesbian, gay, bisexual) are not the same as gender identities.

Transgender means that that person “seeks to align their gender expression with their gender identity, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth.” Cisgender means a person identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth. If you need a more comprehensive rundown about sexual orientation, gender identity, and the like, visit the GLAAD reference guide.

2) Stop using the word “gay” as an insult.
Or insinuating people you don’t like are “gay” together. This is the most basic thing that can be done for workplace inclusivity regarding the queer community. Anything that actively says that LGBTQIA+ people are “lesser” than their straight counterparts can hurt the queer people on your team and make them not feel welcome. It’s not cool.

3) Don’t make jokes that involve the LGBTQIA+ community as a punchline.
It’s not cute to make a “funny quip” about pronouns or to call someone a lesbian because of their outfit. This kind of language makes people feel unwanted in the workplace, but many won’t be able to speak up due to the lack of protections about LGBTQIA+ identities in anti-discrimination statutes. So stop it.

4) Support your colleagues.
If you’re in a situation and hear negative or inappropriate talk regarding the LGBTQIA+ community, stick up for your co-workers. Even if they’re not there, by simply expressing that what was said or done was inappropriate, you’re helping make your workplace more inclusive.

5) Avoid the super probing questions.
It’s okay to talk relationships and life with coworkers, but it can cross a line. If you have a transgender colleague, it’s never going to be appropriate to pry about their choices regarding their gender identity, especially since these questions revolve around their body.

If you have a colleague who has a differing sexual orientation than yours, questions about “how sex works” or any invasive relationship question (“are you the bride or the groom”) is going to hurt the welcomeness of your office space. Just don’t do it.

6) Written pronoun clarity is for everyone!
One thing that many LGBTQIA+ people may do is add their pronouns to their business card, email signature, or name badge for clarity. If you’re cisgender, adding your pronouns to these things can offer support and normalize this practice for the LGBTQIA+ community. Not only does it make sure that you are addressed correctly, you’re validating the fact that it’s an important business practice for everyone to follow.

7) Tokens are for board games, not for people.
LGBTQIA+ people are often proud of who they are and for overcoming adversity regarding their identity. However, it’s never ever going to be okay to just reduce them to the token “transgender colleague” or the “bisexual guy.”

Queer people do not exist to earn you a pat on the back for being inclusive, nor do they exist to give the final word on marketing campaigns for “their demographic.” They’re people just like you who have unique perspectives and feelings. Don’t reduce them just to a token.

8) Bathroom usage is about the person using the bathroom, not you.
An individual will make the choice of what bathroom to use, it does not need commentary. If you feel like they “don’t belong” in the bathroom you’re in due to their gender presentation, don’t worry about it and move on. They made the right choice for them.

An easy way to make restroom worries go away is creating gender neutral restrooms. Not only can they shorten lines, they can offer support for transgender, nonbinary, or other LGBTQIA+ people who just need to go as much as you do.

9) Learn from your mistakes.
Everyone will slip up during their journey to make their workplace more inclusive. If you didn’t use the correct pronouns for your non-binary colleague or misgender someone during a presentation, apologize to them, correct yourself, and do better next time. The worst thing to do is if someone corrects you is for you to shut down or get angry. An open ear and an open heart is the best way to make your work environment supportive for all.

The workplace can be a supportive environment for LGBTQIA+ people, or it could be a hurtful one, depending on the specific culture of the institution. But with some easy changes, it can be a space in which queer and LGBTQIA+ people can feel respected and appreciated.

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Opinion Editorials

“Starting a business is easy,” said only one guy ever

(OPNION EDITORIAL) Between following rules, finding funding, and gathering research, no business succeeds without lifting a finger.

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While browsing business articles this week, I came across this one, “Top 10 Business Ideas You Can Start for Free With Barely Lifting a Finger.” These types of articles make me mad. I can’t think of many successful freelancers or entrepreneurs who don’t put in hours of blood, sweat and tears to get a business going.

The author of the article is Murray Newlands, a “VIP Contributor.” Essentially, he’s a freelancer because he also contributes to Forbes, HuffPro and others. He’s the founder of ChattyPeople.com, which is important, because it’s the first business idea he promotes in the article.

But when I pull up his other articles on Entrepreneur.com, I see others like “How to Get Famous and Make Money on YouTube,” “Win Like A Targaryen: 10 Businesses You Can Start for Free,” and “10 Ventures Young Entrepreneurs Can Start for Cheap or Free.”

I seriously cannot believe that Entrepreneur.com keeps paying for the same ideas over and over.

The business ideas that are suggested are pretty varied. One suggestion is to offer online classes. I wonder if Newlands considered how long it takes to put together a worthy curriculum and how much effort goes into marketing said course.

Then, you have to work out the bugs, because users will have problems. How do you keep someone from stealing your work? What happens when you have a dispute?

Newlands suggests that you could start a blog. It’s pretty competitive these days. The most successful bloggers are ones that really work on their blog, every day. The bloggers have a brand, offer relevant content and are ethical in how they get traffic.

Think it’s easy? Better try again.

I could go on. Every idea he puts up there is a decent idea, but if he thinks it will increase your bottom line without a lot of hard work and effort, he’s delusional.

Today’s entrepreneurs need a plan. They need to work that plan, rethink it and keep working. They have to worry about liability, marketing and keeping up with technologies.

Being an entrepreneur is rewarding, but it’s hard work. It is incredibly inappropriate and grossly negligent to encourage someone to risk everything they have and are on the premise of not lifting a finger.

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Opinion Editorials

Why freelancers should know their worth

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Money is always an awkward talking point and can be difficult for freelancers to state their worth.

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Recently, I delved into what I’ve learned since becoming a freelancer. However, I neglected to mention one of the most difficult lessons to learn, which was something that presented itself to me rather quickly.

“What is your fee for services?” was not a question I had prepared myself for. When it came to hourly rates, I was accustomed to being told what I would make and accepting that as my worth.

This is a concept that needs multiple components to be taken into consideration. You need to evaluate the services you’re providing, the timeliness in which you can accomplish said services, and your level of expertise.

Dorie Clark of the Harvard Business Review believes that freelancers should be charging clients more than what they think they’re worth. The price you give to your clients is worth quite a bit, itself.

Underpricing can send a bad message to your potential clients. If they’re in the market for your services, odds are they are comparing prices from a few other places.

Having too low of a number can put up a red flag to clients that you may be under-experienced. What you’re pricing should correlate with quality and value; set a number that shows you do good work and value that work.

Clark suggests developing a network of trustworthy confidants that you can bounce ideas off of, including price points. Having an idea of what other people in your shoes are doing can help you feel more comfortable when it comes to increasing prices.

And, for increasing prices, it is not something that is going to just happen on its own. It’s highly unlikely for a client to say, “you know what, I think I’ll give you a raise!”

It’s important to never take advantage of any client, but it’s especially important to show loyalty to the ones that have always been loyal to you. Test the waters of price increasing by keeping your prices lower for clients that have always been there, but then try raising prices as you take on new clients.

At the end of the day, keep in mind that you are doing this work to support yourself and, theoretically, because you’re good at it. Make sure you’re putting an appropriate price tag on that value.

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