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Blog Action Day- a story of personal redemption

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Since its inception in 2007, AgentGenius.com has participated in Blog Action Day, an annual event that “unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day” in an effort to heighten awareness on global issues. This year, the topic is water:

We asked people to submit creative pieces describing what it would be like if they woke up tomorrow and all of the drinking water in America was toxic? You think you have time to conserve and that a Brita filter will fix everything, but given that 40% of American waterways are already too polluted to fish or even swim, do you really have time? Our world is so arrogant with water use that we don’t even bat an eye that it takes 400 gallons of water to produce a single cotton shirt. How can we justify this to our grandchildren when there is no more safe drinking water in our midst?

Below is Indianapolis Realtor, Ryan Crozier’s creative entry. We invite you to add your thoughts to the comments as to how YOU would react if you woke up to toxic water nation wide?


Dear Diary,

The last 21 hours have been a living hell. My wife Andrea & I woke up @ 6:45am to the sound of our neighbor Elizabeth banging on our kitchen window. She was screaming hysterically about water. Still groggily from sleep and in my pajamas I thought her house was on fire the way she was screaming about WATER!!! I opened the sliding door and began pouring water into a bucket when Elizabeth finally made a complete sentence and told me “The water is toxic… it’s all over the news… the water is toxic!” My first thought was that this was just another one of those “investigative reports” our local news station does to uncover some “major issue” wrong in our community.

Andrea quickly flipped on the TV to discover this was much more than a few bad water samples from the water treatment facility. This was a national issue. The United States water supply had been contaminated with toxins. Elizabeth ran to the next house to alert the rest of our neighbors. I’m so thankful she woke us up this morning before we sat down to our daily bagels & cups of coffee made with the contaminated water!

The news told us not to panic; that things would be alright. Well, the entire day was filled with nothing but panic. Everywhere I went people were in a state of absolute emergency. I’ve never seen so many people angry and fighting. It was crazy because just the day before today everyone was fine. In fact, I remember on my drive home from work seeing a number of homes in our neighborhood with the sprinkler on. Today, that same water is the source of so much hurt & pain.

Luckily, Andrea & I were able to fill our bath tubs, air mattresses, rubber-maid containers, & buckets with water before it was turned off by the city around 8:15am. We plan on boiling the water over the coming days & weeks to purify it from the toxins so we can use it for drinking water. I am telling absolutely no one because of the immediate threat of robbers breaking in and stealing our water. After the water was turned off I decided to head out and see if any local stores still had any water available. Andrea stayed home to protect the little water we do have. Leaving the house was a huge mistake. The stores were overrun by people. It reminds me of the news footage from Hurricane Katrina… just mass chaos. (It’s ironic that Hurricane Katrina was caused by water and this was caused by a lack of water.) People were standing out in the parking lot trying to sell gallons of water for anywhere from $200-$500. It was a scene out of a movie.

After leaving the store, I drove by the small church on Main Street. (The church that always has that goofy sign “C H _ _ C H – What’s missing? U R!”) Well, today they had handwritten “Free Water & Free Prayer”. I couldn’t believe it. This church actually had large bottles of water and was giving each person 1 bottle for FREE!!!! I struck up a conversation with a little old lady named Jeanne. As she handed me my free bottle of water she took my hand and said “God Loves You… He always has & always will” I asked her how she could be so calm & peaceful during a time like this? She leaned in and whispered in my ear “I trust in the Lord”.
I looked up and saw that she had a tear in her eye. She took out a pen and with her hand shaking she wrote…. “Jeremiah 17:5-8” in the palm of my hand. She gave me a big hug and told me to go home and look it up in my Bible as she started to serve other people their free bottle of water. Little does she know that I haven’t touched a Bible in over 20 years.

By this time it was around 2:30pm. All the stores were shut down and lots of people were leaving town. I’m really not sure where they were going. Somebody told me they were headed to Lake Michigan to see if more water was available there. Something inside me told me to stay put. The best thing I could do is protect & provide for my family. I headed back home to find Andrea had already called through our address book to see how family & friends were doing. My mom was already on her way down to stay with us for a while. Luckily, she too was smart enough to collect about 30 gallons of water and she was bringing it to our house.

When she arrived around 7:30pm we carried in all her stuff and placed her water supply in the basement next to ours. We sat down at the dinner table and she told us about her day. The drive from my mom’s house normally takes two hours. But because of all the traffic it took her six hours today. She said she saw a number of people trying to climbing water towers on her drive down. I guess they thought they could just open them up and get a drink?

Usually, I give my wife a hard time for the time she spends on Facebook & Twitter, but today is came in real handy. We were able to get updates from friends and discover that the water is drinkable as long as it is boiled for 5 minutes. People were posting on Twitter that rain was in the forecast. I guess, too many people found out about the the “water tweets” because not too long after that the twitter “Fail Whale” was all we could see no matter how many times we reload the page.

It’s now almost 4:00am… Andrea is asleep in bed. My mom is sleeping in the guest room and I’m in my office. I never in a million years thought this would happen. Of course, I’ve seen on the news how there is water shortage in Africa, but I never even dreamed this for the United States. I went down into the basement and dug up that old Bible my grandma gave me when I turned 13. It took me a few minutes but I finally found the book of Jeremiah (who knew the Bible had so many books) and found the verses Jeanne wrote on my hand…

Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
in an uninhabited salty land.
But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.
—Jeremiah 17:5-8

I think I just heard rain drops on the window. Yep! It’s raining! Thank You God It’s rain!

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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Opinion Editorials

Shady salary transparency is running rampant: What to look out for

(EDITORIAL) Employees currently have the upper hand in the market. Employers, you must be upfront about salary and approach it correctly.

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Man holding money in the dark representing false salary transparency.

It’s the wild wild west out there when it comes to job applications. Job descriptions often misrepresent remote work opportunities. Applicants have a difficult time telling job scams from real jobs. Job applicants get ghosted by employers, even after a long application process. Following the Great Resignation, many employers are scrambling for workers. Employees have the upper hand in the hiring process, and they’re no longer settling for interviews with employers that aren’t transparent, especially about salary.

Don’t be this employer

User ninetytwoturtles shared a post on Reddit in r/recruitinghell in which the employer listed the salary as $0 to $1,000,000 per year. Go through many listings on most job boards and you’ll find the same kind of tactics – no salary listed or too large of a wide range. In some places, it’s required to post salary information. In 2021, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect in Colorado. Colorado employers must list salary and benefits to give new hires more information about fair pay. Listing a broad salary range skirts the issue. It’s unfair to applicants, and in today’s climate, employers are going to get called out on it. Your brand will take a hit.

Don’t obfuscate wage information

Every employer likes to think that their employees work because they enjoy the job, but let’s face it, money is the biggest motivator. During the interview process, many a job has been lost over salary negotiations. Bringing up wages too early in the application process can be bad for a job applicant. On the other hand, avoiding the question can lead to disappointment when a job is offered, not to mention wasted time. In the past, employers held all the cards. Currently, it’s a worker’s market. If you want productive, quality workers, your business needs to be honest and transparent about wages.

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Opinion Editorials

3 reasons to motivate yourself to declutter your workspace (and mind)

(EDITORIAL) Making time to declutter saves time and money – all while reducing stress. Need a little boost to start? We all need motivation sometimes.

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Clean work desk representing the need to declutter.

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few years. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, 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

How to identify and minimize ‘invisible’ work in your organization

(EDITORIAL) Often meaningless, invisible tasks get passed down to interns and women. These go without appreciation or promotion. How can we change that?

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Women in a meeting around table, inclusion as a part of stopping gender discrimination representing invisible work.

Invisible work, non-promotable tasks, and “volunteer opportunities” (more often volun-told), are an unfortunate reality in the workforce. There are three things every employer should do in relation to these tasks: minimize them, acknowledge them, and distribute them equitably.

Unfortunately, the reality is pretty far from this ideal. Some estimates state up to 75% or more of these time-sucking, minimally career beneficial activities are typically foisted on women in the workplace and are a leading driver behind burnout in female employees. The sinister thing about this is most people are completely blind to these factors; it’s referred to as invisible work for a reason.

Research from Harvard Business Review* found that 44% more requests are presented to women as compared to men for “non-promotable” or volunteer tasks at work. Non-promotable tasks are activities such as planning holiday events, coordinating workplace social activities, and other ‘office housework’ style activities that benefit the office but typically don’t provide career returns on the time invested. The work of the ‘office mom’ often goes unacknowledged or, if she’s lucky, maybe garners some brief lip service. Don’t be that boss that gives someone a 50hr workload task for a 2-second dose of “oh yeah thanks for doing a bajillion hours of work on this thing I will never acknowledge again and won’t help your career.”  Yes, that’s a thing. Don’t do it. If you do it, don’t be surprised when you have more vacancies than staff. You brought that on yourself.

There is a lot of top-tier talent out there in the market right now. To be competitive, consider implementing some culture renovations so you can have a more equitable, and therefore more attractive, work culture to retain your top talent.

What we want to do:

  1. Identify and minimize invisible work in your organization
  2. Acknowledge the work that can’t be avoided. Get rid of the blind part.
  3. Distribute the work equitably.

Here is a simple example:

Step 1: Set up a way for staff to anonymously bring things to your attention. Perhaps a comment box. Encourage staff to bring unsung heroes in the office to your attention. Things they wish their peers or they themselves received acknowledgment for.

Step 2: Read them and actually take them seriously. Block out some time on your calendar and give it your full attention.

For the sake of demonstration, let’s say someone leaves a note about how Caroline always tidies up the breakroom at the end of the day and cleans the coffee pot with supplies Caroline brings from home. Now that we have identified a task, we are going to acknowledge it, minimize it, and consider the distribution of labor.

Step 3: Thank Caroline at the team meeting for scrubbing yesterday’s burnt coffee out of the bottom of the pot every day. Don’t gloss over it. Make the acknowledgment mean something. Buy her some chips out of the vending machine or something. The smallest gestures can have the biggest impact when coupled with actual change.

Step 4: Remind your staff to clean up after themselves. Caroline isn’t their mom. If you have to, enforce it.

Step 5: Put it in the office budget to provide adequate cleaning supplies for the break room and review your custodial needs. This isn’t part of Caroline’s job description and she could be putting that energy towards something else. Find the why of the situation and address it.

You might be rolling your eyes at me by now, but the toll of this unpaid invisible work has real costs.  According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace Report* the ladies are carrying the team, but getting little to none of the credit. Burnout is real and ringing in at an all-time high across every sector of the economy. To be short, women are sick and tired of getting the raw end of the deal, and after 2 years of pandemic life bringing it into ultra-sharp focus, are doing something about it. In the report, 40% of ladies were considering jumping ship. Data indicates that a lot of them not only manned the lifeboats but landed more lucrative positions than they left. Now is the time to score and then retain top talent. However, it is up to you to make sure you are offering an environment worth working in.

*Note: the studies cited here do not differentiate non-cis-identifying persons. It is usually worse for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community.

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