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Opinion Editorials

Blogger Sued – $25 Million

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Real Estate Blogger Leveled With Huge Lawsuit

f1_tibor-hollo.JPG

image: miami sun post

Pictured above is Mega Developer Tibor Hollo in the Miami Sun Post last year, who has leveled a $25 Million Defamation Suit against a Florida real estate blogger.


source Miami Herald: read full article

The Good, Bad, The Blogger

Developer Tibor Hollo has filed a $25 million defamation lawsuit against a Miami real estate agent who blogged that the octogenarian went bankrupt in the 1980s and is headed for a fall with the upheaval in the condo market.

What did the agent say?

”My opinion is that this development is doomed,” he wrote on Jan. 10.

What does the expert say?

Robert Jarvis, a constitutional law and ethics professor at Nova Southeastern University, who isn’t involved in the case, said he doubts Lechuga will be held liable.

”Courts understand [blogs] are written in unedited, unvetted fashion,” Jarvis said. “There’s a lot of hyperbole. That’s why it’s so difficult to win defamation lawsuits.”

What does the so-called defamed say?

”I guess when you’re running a blog [you] think [you] can say anything about anybody, and that’s just not true,” Hollo said. He called the postings “plain, unadulterated lies.”

Who Wins?

I predict the agent will get off the hook, but the developer is already winning. The agent has already lost his job, and because the agent was fired is left to financially defend himself against a huge developer. This is a sad day for free speech, but a great day for the re.net. Obviously those that would minimize the re.net have failed if the reality is people are paying attention enough to care what a blogger has to say.

The Lesson?

Be careful what charge you lead. You may be right, but right is only as deep as your back pocket.

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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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Mariana

    January 29, 2008 at 8:53 am

    …Yeah. Stick with market reports, neighborhood profiles, resturant reviews and surface-only opinions. Save the “plain, unadulturated lies” for when you run for President.

  2. Matthew Rathbun

    January 29, 2008 at 9:02 am

    I’ve read the article and found it interesting that the Broker terminated him for making negative comments and goes on to say that he wishes to be a positve source of informaiton. I feel that there are times when the information is just plain negative. The condition of the market being bad, is well…. what it is. I try to keep my articles informative and up with the current trends and sometimes that just bad. I’ve said in a recent post that our local market will probably get worst before it gets better. If Brokerage Firms were to firm “negative people” they would be empty!

    I do think the incorrect information regarding the BK was a bit much and he should have researched it, but even newspapers get a change to write retractions when they are incorrect.

    I don’t know… there seem to be a lot of elements here. I think sharing your opinion is ok, but you have to make sure that your supportive data (BK) is correct!

  3. Robert D. Ashby

    January 29, 2008 at 9:26 am

    If the agent did make “plain, unadulterated lies”, then he deserves everything he gets. If it was opinion, it goes kind of along with the Andy Kaufman issue. Sometimes one’s opinion and lies are along a thin line, but stating a BK that didn’t exist is black and white lying. A simple public records search should show the BK as truth or outright lie.

  4. Benn Rosales

    January 29, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Robert, unless the BK was an urban legend and the author can prove a direct source for his understanding of the facts as he stated them.

    I cannot comment on who is right or who is wrong, but I can say that my larger point was the re.net cannot be minimized and this suit proves it. What we say not only is vital, but because it is so vital we as bloggers must be cautious.

  5. Robert D. Ashby

    January 29, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Benn, you are absolutely correct. The RE.net has grown to the point we can, and will, police those blogging within it.

    I am actually planning to do a post on the “issue” as well, after I do the PR search.

  6. ines

    January 29, 2008 at 9:52 am

    You beat me to it Benn – nice reporting!! I was just going to post the whole ordeal from the beginning. The guy was fired for stating his opinion then was refired when the law suit came up. It’s an interesting turn of events because we ARE liable for what we write in our blogs but at the same time it is also our opinion.
    Do we have to write **this is our opinion** in every single line – maybe we should consider writing a release on all our blogs.

  7. Robert D. Ashby

    January 29, 2008 at 11:12 am

    BTW, I need to write a corrective note. It was not Andy Kaufman, but Todd Kaufman I meant. Sorry, but I want to avoid a lawsuit myself.

  8. Robert D. Ashby

    January 29, 2008 at 11:39 am

    PS – Sorry Andy, didn’t mean to defame you.

  9. Rhonda Porter

    January 29, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Aren’t bankruptcy’s public record? If so, hind sight being crystal clear, shouldn’t the blogger have linked the BK to support his statement? If you’re going to make a bold statement, I think you need to back it up.

  10. Ines

    January 29, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Rhonda – the issue is that companies come and go with obscure officials and agents of record. Not that I am implying that it happened in this situation, but I totally agree with you that heresay is not good when you make a statement of that magnitude.

  11. Principal Broker

    January 30, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING! RUMORS, RUMORS AND MORE RUMORS. Anyone can have, and is entitled to, an opinion! What we have here is merely a difference of opinions.

    Some people ought to get a life of their own

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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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Opinion Editorials

5 secrets to a more productive morning, free of distractions

(EDITORIAL) Productivity is king in the office, but sometimes distractions and other issues slow you down. So what can you do to limit these factors?

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distractions stop productivity

Regardless of whether you’re a self-proclaimed morning person or not, more efficient mornings can be catalytic in your daily productivity and output. The only question is, do you know how to make the most of your mornings in the office?

5 Tips for Greater Morning Productivity

In economic terms, productivity is a measure of output as it relates to input. Academics often discuss productivity in terms of a one-acre farm’s ability to produce a specific crop yield, or an auto manufacturing plant’s ability to produce a certain number of vehicles over a period of time. But then there’s productivity in our personal lives.

Your own daily productivity can be defined in a variety of ways. But at the end of the day, it’s about getting the desired results with less time and effort on the input side. And as a business professional, one of the best ways to do this is by optimizing your morning in the office.

Here are a few timely suggestions:

  1. Eliminate All Non-Essential Actions

    Spend the next week keeping a log of every single action you take from the moment your eyes open in the morning until you sit down at your desk. It might look something like this:

    • Turn off alarm
    • Scroll through social media on the phone
    • Get out of bed
    • Eat breakfast
    • Take shower
    • Brush teeth
    • Walk dog
    • Watch news
    • Browse favorite websites
    • Get in car
    • Starbucks drive-thru
    • Arrive at office
    • Small talk with coworkers
    • Sit down at the desk

    If you do this over the course of a week, you’ll notice that your behaviors don’t change all that much. There might be some slight deviations, but it’s basically the same pattern.

    Now consider how you can eliminate as many points of friction as possible from your routine. [Note from the Editor: This may be an unpopular opinion, but] For example, can you skip social media time? Can you make coffee at home, rather than drive five minutes out of your way to wait in the Starbucks drive-thru line? Just doing these two things alone could result in an additional 30 minutes of productive time in the office.

  2. Reduce Distractions

    Distractions kill productivity. They’re like rooftop snipers. As soon as they see any sign of productivity, they put it in their crosshairs and pull the trigger.Ask yourself this: What are my biggest distractions and how can I eliminate them?Popular distractions include social media, SMS, video games, news websites, and email. And while none of these are evil, they zap focus. At the very least, you should shift them to later in the day.
  3. Set Measurable Goals and Action items

    It’s hard to have a productive morning if you don’t have a clear understanding of what it means to be productive. Make sure you set measurable goals, create actionable to-do lists, and establish definitive measurements of what it looks like to be efficient. However, don’t get so caught up in the end result that you miss out on true productivity.“There’s a big difference between movement and achievement; while to-do lists guarantee that you feel accomplished in completing tasks, they don’t ensure that you move closer to your ultimate goals,” TonyRobbins.com mentions. “There are many ways to increase your productivity; the key is choosing the ones that are right for you and your ultimate goals.”In other words, set goals that are actually reflective of productivity. In doing so, you’ll adjust your behavior to come in proper alignment with the results you’re seeking.
  4. Try Vagus Nerve Stimulation

    Sometimes you just need to block out distractions and focus on the task at hand. There are plenty of ways to shut out interruptions but make sure you’re also simultaneously cuing your mind to be productive. Vagus nerve stimulation is one option for doing both.Vagus nerve stimulation gently targets the body’s vagus nerve to promote balance and relaxation, while simultaneously enhancing focus and output.
  5. Optimize Your Workspace

    Makes sure your office workspace is conducive to productivity. This means eliminating clutter, optimizing the ergonomics of your desk, reducing distractions, and using “away” settings on apps and devices to suppress notifications during work time.

Make Productivity a Priority

Never take productivity for granted. The world is full of distractions and your willpower is finite. If you “wing it,” you’ll end up spending more time, energy, and effort, all while getting fewer positive results.

Make productivity a priority – especially during the mornings when your mind is fresh and the troubles of the day have yet to be released in full force. Doing so will change the way you operate, function, and feel. It’ll also enhance tangible results, like income, job status, and the accolades that come along with moving up in your career.

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Opinion Editorials

Is the tech industry layoff bloodbath coming or is it already here?

We have large online communities for job seekers, and we can affirm that the layoffs are on the way, but there is a silver lining for all involved…

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layoff time

If you were on Twitter at the end of last week, you probably saw a dribble of conversations about layoffs in tech coming, and today, the volume was turned up to 10 on social media. Several founders have said they’re cutting parts of teams and are nixing contractors. We’re about to be in a recession, y’all, and we can ALL feel it coming.

While this has been happening all of this calendar year, a pending recession is kicking the stock market in the teeth (especially in tech), and combined with a slowdown in fundraising, fuel has been added to what was simply kindling, and layoffs are already rapidly escalating.

JD isn’t the only one hearing it, my inbox has slowly been lighting up on this topic. In response, Joshua Baer noted that it’s a great time to scoop up talent. Love or hate him, he’s right.

There is a lot of data on tech layoffs, for example, Layoffs.FYI has been tracking meaningfully since COVID began, pulling info from public reports. We expect they’ll be busy for the next few months.

While VC funding in 2021 was at a global high, so far, 2022 has shown a significant slowdown, according to CrunchBase. Many believe valuations are tumified, a bear market is believed to be upon us, and tech firms are struggling to increase profitability, all combining to a bubble about to burst.

As Baer noted, the silver lining is for anyone looking to hire. It’s bad news for anyone about to get a pink slip, but it’s also empowering to know that candidates are still in the driver’s seat in this market and negotiations are still in their favor.

We at AG have communities dedicated completely to job seekers and employers, and have created neutral ground on which they can meet, and they do by the thousands (Austin Digital Jobs and Remote Digital Jobs).

We’re not seeing the “bloodbath” of folks with pink slips in hand yet, BUT today, a dozen mid- to senior- level technologists reached out to me personally that got laid off Monday morning.

With our finger firmly on the tech employment pulse, we agree with the assessment that layoffs are coming.

More on this topic: “Why are tech layoffs coming after such great Q1 earnings?!”

Here’s the TL;DR version in memes:

The end is nigh?
tech layoffs in memes

Seems about right

In and out Morty, a quick 24 hour adventure!

Diversification is the key


The May 2022 stock market

Insert angry title here

It’s fedish!

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