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Opinion Editorials

Building versus pruning your digital contacts

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To Twinkie or Not To Twinkie?

There’s two schools of thought on maintaining your contacts online.

1. The more digital friends and followers you have, the better. Throw enough crap opportunity on the wall and some will stick. It’s a numbers game baby. (I lean in this direction, using Lists. I explain why below.)

2. Like what Twinkies are to nutrition, having hundreds or even thousands of digital friends and followers is a time sucking vortex of noise, empty calories and insincerity. It’s about real relationships, my friend.

Which approach will work best for you and your business?

To Twinkie or Not To Twinkie?

The Anti-Twinkie Approach May Feel Good, But Is It Good For You?

When we burden our social circles with dozens, hundreds and even thousands of empty calories semi-friends, strangers and quasi-strangers, the noise value and quality of our important real relationships sorta diminishes in inverse proportion to the head count.

How does one restore real relationships, save time, have fun and add value?  The answer is duh-simple but not easy.

Prune the hell out of your social circles.  Lose the loosely or unconnected connections.  Also we can all use “Lists” to help us lovefest focus.

(FYI, this post was inspired by Chris Smith’s recent blog post on the subject, I Started 2012 By Digitally Pruning (You Certainly Should Do The Same).  Read it and come back (please).)

The diminishing returns of a Twinkie Approach is also supported by the Dunbar Number.  In 1992 British anthropologist Robin Dunbar theorized that the cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationship with is 150 people.  Here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on the Dunbar Number.

“this limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size … the limit imposed by neocortical processing capacity is simply on the number of individuals with whom a stable inter-personal relationship can be maintained.”

I  was totally onboard with what Chris, Dunbar and other supremely respected Alphas evangelize – Quality Over Quantity.  It’ makes perfect sense and feels right.  I quit eating Twinkies a long, long time ago (When’s the last time you had one?).  That is, I was onboard until 5:45am this morning.  Now I’m in a quandary. Read on and let me know what you will do.

Here’s the quandary, what if we’re analyzing and implementing strategy based on today’s-logic and known human limitations, instead of technological innovations – know and unknown?

The Semantic-Social-Search Black Swan Surprise

Over estimating what we know and under estimating what we don’t know is a human condition and fertile soil for surprise.  And opportunity.

This bombshell surprise paragraph is from an article titled, Google Gets 200+ IBM Patents, Including One for a ‘Semantic Social Network’

“For example, you may want to find someone knowledgeable about real estate in a specific neighborhood to ask for buying advice. But the right person may not list that as an “interest,” so you may not be able to easily find them in your expanded network (which includes friends of friends). A semantic network would find the right person to talk to by analyzing which people in your network post content having to do with the specific topic, and how much time others spend reading it.”

Yeah. Reread the article.

Do you suppose Semantic-Social-Search is valuable to Google, Facebook, Twitter, et al?  I bet it’s hugely valuable, therefore inevitable. When, not if Semantic Social Search becomes a reality, which school of thought will rule the day?

For real estate agents, will it be better to have as many friends and followers (and friends of friends) as possible, enhancing your chances opportunities (assuming you’re the right person for the job) to be discovered and hired?  Will friends and followers be the new Social SEO?  Will a Twinkie turn into a Success Super Food?

Or, will a tightly woven clan of rich and real relationships be the winning formula for success, health and happiness?

What Next?

I’m going to grow the size of my tribes.  Unless they’re a dumb ass spammer, I’m going to keep my social-boarders open and inclusive.  To ear muff the drone and noise of semi-strangers and to enjoy and nurture my real, important and valuable relationships I’ll use the List feature.

And of course, because the future is unknown, I’ll keep my mind open, learn and adapt from following Chris Smith, AG Beat and other Alphas.

What will you do?

Cheers and thanks for reading.

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and BrandCandid.com. On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Lynda White

    January 10, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Well, Ken, I did prune my Twitter list at the suggestion of Chris Smith last week. I thought it was a good idea because I was getting a lot more noise than real conversations.

    Imagine my surprise when I went through 1,021 connections individually and could only pare them down to 950! Now I've added you for 951! Keepers: anyone in real estate, anyone local, anyone who inspired me, and anyone in my business coop group. Dropped: link spammers and annoying, negative people.

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Opinion Editorials

DNA tests are cool, but are they worth it?

(OPINION EDITORIAL) DNA tests are all the rage currently but are they worth potentially having your genetic makeup sold and distributed?

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Over the last few years, DNA testing went mainstream. Companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe have offered easy access to the insights of your genetics, including potential health risks and family heritage, through simple tests.

However, as a famously ageless actor once suggested in a dinosaur movie, don’t focus too much on if you can do this, without asking if you should do this.

When you look closely, you can find several reasons to wonder if sending your DNA to these companies is a wise choice.

These reasons mostly come down to privacy protection, and while most companies do have privacy policies in place, you will find some surprising loopholes in the fine print. For one, most of the big players don’t give you the option to not have your data sold.

These companies, like 23andMe and Ancestry.com, can always sell your data so long as your data is “anonymized,” thanks to the HIPPA Act of 1996. Anonymization involves separating key identifying features about a person from their medical or biological data.

These companies know that loophole well; Ancestry.com, for example, won’t even give customers an opt-out of having their DNA data sold.

Aside from how disconcerting it is that these companies will exploit this loophole for their gain at your expense, it’s also worth noting that standards for anonymizing data don’t work all that well.

In one incident, reportedly, “one MIT scientists was able to ID the people behind five supposedly anonymous genetic samples randomly selected from a public research database. It took him less than a day.”

There’s also the issue of the places where that data goes when it goes out. That report the MIT story comes from noted that 23andMe has sold data to at least 14 outside pharmaceutical firms.

Additionally, Ancestry.com has a formal data-sharing agreement with a biotech firm. That’s not good for you as the consumer, because you may not know how that firm will handle the data.

Some companies give data away to the public databases for free, but as we saw from the earlier example, those can be easy targets if you wanted to reverse engineer the data back to the person.

It would appear the only safe course of action is to have this data destroyed once your results are in. However, according to US federal regulation for laboratory compliance stipulates that US labs hold raw information for a minimum of 10 years before destruction.

Now, consider all that privacy concern in the context of what happens when your DNA data is compromised. For one, this kind of privacy breach is irreversible.

It’s not as simple as resetting all your passwords or freezing your credit.

If hackers don’t get it, the government certainly can; there’s even an instance of authorities successfully obtaining a warrant for DNA evidence from Ancestry.com in a murder trial.

Even if you’re not the criminal type who would worry about such a thing, the precedent is concerning.

Finally, if these companies are already selling data to entities in the biomedical field, how long until medical and life insurance providers get their hands on it?

I’ll be the first to admit that the slippery slope fallacy is strong here, but there are a few troubling patterns of behavior and incorrect assumptions already in play regarding the handling of your DNA evidence.

The best course of action is to take extra precaution.

Read the fine print carefully, especially what’s in between the lines. As less scrupulous companies look to cash in on the trend, be aware of entities who skimp on privacy details; DNA Explained chronicles a lot of questionable experiences with other testing companies.

Above all, really think about what you’re comfortable with before you send in those cheek swabs or tubes of spit. While the commercials make this look fun, it is a serious choice and should be treated like one.

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Opinion Editorials

How to deal with an abusive boss and keep your job, too

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Sometimes bosses can be the absolute worst, but also, you depend on them. Here’s how to deal with an abusive boss and, hopefully, not get fired.

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Nothing can ruin your work life like an abusive boss or supervisor. But when you’re dependent on your boss for assignments, promotions – heck, your paycheck – how can you respond to supervisor abuse in a way that doesn’t jeopardize your job or invite retaliation?

A new study to be published in the next Academy of Management Journal suggests an intriguing approach to responding to an abusive boss. As you might expect, their study shows that avoiding the abuser does little to change the dynamic.

But the study also found that confronting the abuser was equally ineffective.

Instead, the study suggests that workers in an abusive situation “flip the script” on their bosses, “shifting the balance of power.” But how?

The researchers tracked the relationship between “leader-follower dyads” at a real estate agency and a commercial bank. They found that, without any intervention, abuse tended to persist over time.

However, they also discovered two worker-initiated strategies that “can strategically influence supervisors to stop abuse and even motivate them to mend strained relationships.”

The first strategy is to make your boss more dependent on you. For example, one worker in the study found out that his boss wanted to develop a new analytic procedure.

The worker became an expert on the subject and also educated his fellow co-workers. When the boss realized how important the worker was to the new project, the abuse subsided.

In other words, find out what your boss’s goals are, and then make yourself indispensable.

In the second strategy, workers who were being abused formed coalitions with one another, or with other workers that had better relationships with the boss. The study found that “abusive behavior against isolated targets tends to stop once the supervisor realizes it can trigger opposition from an entire coalition.”

Workplace abuse is not cool, and it shouldn’t really be up to the worker to correct it. At times, the company will need to intervene to curb bad supervisor behavior. However, this study does suggest a few strategies that abused workers can use to try to the tip the balance in their favor.

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Opinion Editorials

Avoid the stack, conquer busy work as it comes

(PRODUCTIVITY) It’s easy overwhelmed with emails and a stack of real mail. But tackling as it comes may help to enhance organization and productivity.

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A few weeks ago, I was walking through my office (also known as my bedroom after 5 p.m.) and I noticed a stack of mail that I had tossed aside over the course of the last few months. While they were non-urgent, this collection of paperwork had been opened, read, and left unattended.

Now, this was a classic move of mine – leave a mess for Future Taylor to clean up. So, imagine my surprise when Present Taylor woke up and decided to put an end to “the stack.”

I sat down, went through everything, and took care of what needed to be done. Even though my wallet took a few hits, it felt great to have this cleared up and off my desk.

Right then and there, I made it a rule to let things only cross my desk once (unless there’s some extenuating circumstance in which it requires me to come back to it; i.e. my favorite sentence on this paperwork “This is not a final bill.”) There’s no point in drawing out the stress that “the stack” induce.

This led me to finally attacking something that’s been on my to-do list since I created my Gmail account in 2009 – create an organizational system.

I set aside some time to create folders (for individual projects, people I communicate with frequently, etc.)

While this is all stuff that you may have already implemented, my point is that this increase my productivity and lifted a weight off of my shoulders I didn’t acknowledge was there.

So, I encourage you to find one of those menial tasks that has been on your to-do list forever and tackle it.

This can include, organizing all of your electronic files into folders, updating your phone and email contacts, or going through all of your desk drawers to get rid of unneeded items. Organizing and freshening up your workspace can help increase your focus.

Once you’re organized and in gear, try the “let it cross your desk once” method. When an email comes in, respond to it or file it. When a bill comes in, pay it. You may be surprised at your rise in productivity.

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