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Opinion Editorials

AG Crew Has NAR Mid-Year COVERED



nar mid-year conference in washington, dc

Some REALTORS have no idea that NAR actually puts on TWO conventions every year. The one most of us know about is the Annual Conference and Expo (this year, it is in Orlando). Every year, though, NAR and real estate professionals from around the world gather in Washington, DC for the NAR Mid-Year Meetings and Expo.

What is NAR Mid-Year?

The Mid-Year Meetings are kinda like the annual convention, but different. For starters, it is on a smaller scale. There is still and expo, but not as many exhibitors, and there aren’t as many attendees overall. The other difference is that there is a lot more emphasis on organizational, administrative, and legislative meetings (what else what you expect from a meeting in DC?).

My Mid-Year Experience

This year was the first time I attended the Mid-Year Meetings. I figured that since it is only two hours away from me, I should try and make some time to check it out. That is exactly what I did on Tuesday. Unfortunately for me, Tuesday was the first full day of the event, so there wasn’t a whole lot going on. I found a way to keep busy, though. 🙂

The first thing I did was head straight to the Bloggers’ Lounge, hosted by the CRT. It is a great place for bloggers to hang out, so I wanted to see who was hanging around. The first person I met there was Keith Garner of CRT. Keith is a cool dude, and I was glad to see him again. Not long after arriving, I met fellow Agent Genius contributor Bill Lublin (@billlublin). We were hanging out, talking about the meetings when I asked if Bill wouldn’t mind sharing his experiences with me live for the folks at home via Ustream. Bill was kind enough to oblige, and we had a BLAST, along with everyone who watched the live stream from all around the country.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that Ustream doesn’t automatically record the live stream. So I can’t share with you the time Bill and I spent dazzling people with our banter and insight. 😉

Mid-Year Live-Streaming Goodness

When I came back to the Bloggers’ Lounge a bit later, I ran into Monika McGillicuddy (@monimcg). Since I had already had success with Ustream and Bill, I asked Monika if she would share her experiences. She did, along with her husband, Jay (@acemaker), who came by a little later. This time, I was smart enough to record the stream, so here it is (you can probably skip the first minute or two, since it was just set-up):

Follow Along at Home

As you can see, I had a lot of fun at Mid-Year. My only regret is that I couldn’t stay longer. Lucky for me (and you, too), fellow Genius Matt Rathbun has offered up some of his own wall-to-wall coverage of Mid-Year. Way to go, Matt!

So, if you hadn’t heard of Mid-Year before, now you have. And if you have never gone to Mid-Year before, maybe you will decide to come to the one next year. Since it is always held at the same location, planning is a whole lot easier than going to Annual.

Hope to see you there!

I'm a REALTOR, basketball referee, happy husband, and Community Manager (in no particular order). I have a passion for the real estate industry and officiating, a passion that I try to turn into inspiration on my blog, The Real Estate Zebra. I am also the Community Manager at Inman News. When I'm not blogging here on AG or the Zebra, you can usually find me on Twitter.

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  1. Scott P. Rogers

    May 15, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    >> I can’t share with you the time Bill and I spent dazzling people with our banter and insight.

    It is a sad day! 🙂

    >> Since I had already had success with Ustream and Bill, I asked Monika if she would share her experiences.

    Thanks for doing this — it’s great to see and hear updates from the conference. I was at the conference for the day today (Thursday), but didn’t run into very many people in the bloggers lounge.

  2. Bill Lublin

    May 15, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Daniel – Believe me when I say that I enjoyed our time together even more then you! The next two days were spent recounting to others what an awesome multi-taskere you are – If I buy a Mac it will be your fault 🙂
    Look forward to our next video experience Maybe we can oovoo –

  3. Maureen Francis

    May 15, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Loved the twitter updates this morning from NAR. It was almost like being there!

  4. Jeremy Hart

    May 15, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Daniel – As someone who admittedly has not participated in any NAR conferences, what was your biggest takeaway?

  5. Frank LL0SA- Broker

    May 15, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    I didn’t see you there. Are you sure you were there?

  6. Ann Cummings

    May 16, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Goodness – I watched the WHOLE video! I’m emailing with Monika as they’re driving back home here to NH, while I’m watching you all on the video. Cool to see that, I’ll have to hit the Bloggers’ Lounge in Orlando in Nov.

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Daniel Rothamel

    May 16, 2008 at 2:12 pm


    For me, the biggest takeaway is the conversations I had with the people. This time, I didn’t really go to any sessions, but I did have a lot of great conversations with people.

    Here is the thing, if you are going to Mid-Year to find fish– don’t go. If you want to learn more about fishing, then it should be worth it.

    In order to have any success at any convention, you MUST go into it asking yourself this question: What do I want to do/learn while I am here? If you go to a convention without any sort of plan or goal, you are sure to be disappointed.

    For Mid-Year, my goal was to meet some new people and get a sense for where NAR might be headed. GOAL ACHIEVED. I just wish I could have stayed longer.

  8. Jeremy Hart

    May 16, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Conversation … interesting because that’s what we have so much of online, in a number of different streams. Yet people don’t see social media as being social, when conversations can happen on and offline.

    like the fishing analogy.

  9. Daniel Rothamel

    May 16, 2008 at 3:45 pm


    I am beginning to see that there are two types of conversations: online and off (isn’t that original?)

    Each has their place, and each is valuable in its own special way. You should always strive for a healthy mix of both.

    Some offline conversations simply couldn’t happen online, or at least, they couldn’t happen as effectively. The same is true in reverse. Each can compliment the other. You still need both.

  10. monika

    May 16, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Jay and I just got home from DC and I had to come check out your post. I really had a blast talking with you and meeting so many fellow Bloggers. It was a fun but very busy conference. I think the Twitter updates really made the conference come alive for us all.
    Thanks Daniel for the interview!

  11. Kristal Kraft

    May 20, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Mid year this time was pretty laid back for me with only one firm commitment and lots of socializing. It was great to meet many of the Genius contributors and hook up with others I’ve previously met. The best part about social networking is the feeling of familiarity even with someone you’ve never met before. Communicating on this level makes us all smarter.

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Opinion Editorials

BIPOC Gen Zers are using TikTok to create cultural awareness

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) TikTok has become a platform for younger generations to share their cultures, paving the way for a more inclusive society. And they’re doing it one 15 second video at a time.



Black person's hands holding a phone loading TikTok above a wooden table.

When scrolling on TikTok, you might come across this question posed by a BIPOC creator (Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color): “How old were you when you realized you weren’t ugly, you just lived in a predominantly White space?”

Growing up in predominantly White spaces myself with immigrant parents from the Middle East, I had a warped perspective of beauty. Straight light hair, fair skin, Western features, a stick-thin figure – I internalized my physical otherness as lack.

It wasn’t until I moved to a diverse city for college that I realized this. I saw others speaking different languages, eating ethnic foods and dressing however they wanted without fear of losing their proximity to Whiteness. Exposure to others who didn’t fit “the mold” was transformative for me.

As someone in their mid-twenties, I came of age with social media like Tumblr, Facebook and, ultimately, Instagram. But I’d be lying to you if I said that I didn’t wish TikTok was around when I was a kid.

For reference, most TikTok users are between 16-24, meaning that many are still in high school. While content on TikTok is really all over the place and specifically catered to your preferences (you can feel the algorithums at work as your scroll), one facet that I find integral to the app’s essence is Gen Z proudly showcasing their cultures – aka #culturecheck.

Besides the countless ethnic food tutorials (some of my favorite content on the app!), fashion has become a main way for BIPOC or immigrant TikTokers to fully express their identities and share their culture with other users on the app, regardless of physical location.

Take the #FashionEdit challenge, where creators lip sync to a mash-up of Amine’s “Caroline” and “I Just Did a Bad Thing” by Bill Wurtz as they transform from their everyday Western clothes into that of their respective culture.

In her famous video, Milan Mathew – the creator attributed to popularizing this trend – sits down in a chair. She edits the clip in such a way that as she sits, her original outfit switches to a baby-pink lehenga and she becomes adorned with traditional Indian jewelry. Denise Osei does the same, switching into tradition Ghanaian dress. If you can think of a culture or ethnicity, chances are they are represented in this TikTok trend.

This past Indigenous People’s Day, James Jones’ videos went viral across various social media platforms, as he transformed into his traditional garments and performed tribal dances.

Though the cultures and respective attire they showcase are unique in each video, the energy is all the same: proud and beautiful. Showing off what your culture wears has become a way to gain clout on the app and inspire others to do the same.

The beautiful thing about cultural/ethnic TikTok is that it isn’t just Mexicans cheering for other Mexicans, or Arabs cheering for other Arabs – the app sustains a general solidarity across racial and ethnic lines while cultivating an appreciation of world cultures.

But just how deep does that appreciation go? Some users think (and I agree) that “liking” a video of an attractive creator in traditional dress is hardly a radical move in dismantling notions of Western beauty.

While TikTok trends might not solve these issues entirely, it’s important to note that they are moving things in the right directions – I certainly never saw anything like this when I was growing up.

For whatever reason, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers seem to have a lot of shade to throw at Gen Z. But one thing is for certain – this young generation is paving the way for a more inclusive, more respectful society, which is something we should all get behind. And they’re doing it one 15 second video at a time.

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Opinion Editorials

This website is like Pinterest for WFH desk setups

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) If you’ve been working from home at the same, unchanged desk setup, it may be time for an upgrade. My Desk Tour has the inspiration you need.



Man browsing desk setups on My Desk Tour

Whether you’re sitting, standing, or reclining your way through the pandemic, you’re most likely doing it from home these days. You’re also probably contending with an uninspired desk configuration hastily cobbled together in March, which—while understandable—might be bringing you down. Fortunately, there’s an easy, personable solution to spark your creativity: My Desk Tour.

My Desk Tour is a small website started by Jonathan Cai. On this site, you will find pictures of unique and highly customized desk setups; these desk configurations range from being optimized for gamers to coders to audiophiles, so there’s arguably something for everyone—even if you’re just swinging by to drool for a bit.

Cai also implements a feature in which site users can tag products seen in desk photos with direct links to Amazon so you don’t have to poke around the Internet for an hour in search of an obscure mouse pad. This is something Cai initially encountered on Reddit and, after receiving guidance from various subreddits on the issue of which mouse to purchase, he found the inspiration to create My Desk Tour.

The service itself is pretty light—the landing page consists of a few desk setup photos and a rotating carousel of featured configurations—but it has great potential to grow into a desk-focused social experience of sorts.

It’s also a great place to drop in on if you’re missing the extra level of adoration for your desk space that a truly great setup invokes. Since most people who have been working from home since the spring didn’t receive a ton of advance notice, it’s reasonable to assume that the majority of folks have resigned themselves to a boring or inefficient desk configuration. With a bit of inspiration from My Desk Tour, that can change overnight.

Of course, some of the desk options featured on the site are a bit over the top. One configuration boasts dual ultra-wide monitors stacked atop each other, and another shows off a monitor flanked by additional vertical monitors—presumably for the sake of coding. If you’re scrambling to stay employed, such a setup might be egregious.

If you’re just looking for a new way to orient your workspace for the next few months, though, My Desk Tour is worth a visit.

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Opinion Editorials

Popular opinion: Unemployment in a pandemic sucks [EDITORIAL]

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) I got laid off during the pandemic, and I think I can speak for all of us to say that unemployment – especially now – really, really sucks.



Stressed man thinking over laptop about unemployment.

Despite not being in an office for what feels like an eternity, losing my job stung. Holding onto work during The Worst Timeline was rough, considering Rome was burning all around. My job was the boat of sanity I could sit in while the waves of bullshit crashed all around. Pre-pandemic, I had just separated from my wife, so my emotional health wasn’t in tip-top shape. But then millions of people go and get sick, the economy took a nosedive, and well, the world changed. When everything around you sucks, and people are on the news crying about unemployment and potential homelessness, you’re thankful as hell that you’re not with them – until you are.

I was writing for a startup, one that came with a litany of headaches thanks to fluctuating budgets and constant directional pivots, but it was steady work. When the Coronavirus hit, it was a scenario of “we’re going to get through this,” but as we switched gears again and again, I started to get an unsettling feeling: I’ve seen this story before. When you live in Austin and are in the creative field, you’ve worked with startups. And there are always trappings on when something lingers in the air – hierarchy shuffles, people aren’t as optimistic, and senior folks start quietly bailing out. Those are the obvious moves that make your unemployment-related Spidey sense tingle, but with COVID, everything is remote. There aren’t the office vibes, the shortened conversations that make you, “I know what’s happening here.” Instead, you’re checking Slack or email and surviving like everyone else.

We were happy to be working, to see the direct deposit hit every two weeks and sigh, knowing you were still in the fight, that you might see this thing through.

We saw our entire business change overnight. Leadership rose to meet the challenges of an old model rooted in hospitality, restaurants, and events, which died with a viral disease shotgun blast. Because the infrastructure was there, we managed to help out workers, and grocery stores work together to keep people fed across the nation. It was legitimately a point of pride. Like all things, though, the market settled. We bought time.

In July, I had a full-blown depressive episode. The weight of the divorce, the lack of human interaction, my work having less value, my career stalled felt like a Terminator robot foot on my skull. I couldn’t get out of bed, and everything I wrote were the smatterings of a broken man. And to my ex-bosses’ credit, my breakdown was NOT my best work, I could barely look at a computer, let alone forge thoughts on an entirely new industry with any authority, or even a fake it till you make it scenario.

When the CEO put time on my calendar, I knew it was a wrap. Startup CEOs don’t make house calls; they swing the ax. When you’re the lone creative in a company trying to survive a nearly company-killing event, you’re the head on the block. Creatives are expensive, and we’re expendable. Site copy, content, media placements, all that can kick rocks when developers need to keep the business moving, even if it’s at a glacial pace. When I was given my walking papers, it was an exhale, on one hand, I’d been professionally empty, but at the same time, I needed consistent money. My personal life was a minefield and I’ve got kids.

I got severance. Unemployment took forever to hit. The state of Texas authorized amount makes me cringe. Punishing Americans for losing their jobs during a crisis is appalling. Millions are without safety nets, and it’s totally ok with elected leaders.

There are deferments available. I had to get them on my credit cards, which I jacked up thanks to spending $8,500 on an amicable divorce, along with a new MacBook Pro that was the price of a used Nissan. I got a deferment on my car note, too.

I’ve applied to over 100 jobs, both remote and local. I’ve applied for jobs I’m overqualified for in hopes they’ll hire me as a freelancer. There are lots of rejection letters. I get to round two interviews. References or the round three interviews haven’t happened yet. I get told I’m too experienced or too expensive. Sometimes, recruiters won’t even show up. And then there are the Zoom meetings. Can we all agree we’re over Zoom? Sometimes, you don’t want to comb your hair.

I’ll get promised the much needed “next steps” and then a rejection email, “thanks but no thanks.” Could you at least tell me what the X-Factor for this decision was? Was there a typo? Did you check my Facebook? The ambiguity kills me. Being a broke senior creative person kills me. I interviewed President Obama and have written for Apple, but ask myself: Can I afford that falafel wrap for lunch? Do you think springing for the fries is worth that extra $3? You’ve got soup at home, you know.

I’m not unique. This is the American Experience. We’re stuck in this self-perpetuating hell. We keep looking for jobs. We want to work. There are only so many gigs to fill when there’s constant rollercoaster news on unemployment recovery. And as long as unemployment sucks, there’s going to be a lot of people bracing for impact come Christmas. Hopefully, the brass in Washington can pass a few bills and get us back to work. At least get Americans out of the breadline by pumping up what we’re surviving off of – across the board. Working people shouldn’t have to face getting sick to bring in an income, while casualties of the Corona War should be able to look at their bills and not feel like the assistant on the knife throwers wheel.

I’m about to be a line cook to make extra cash till an intrepid manager hires me. Who doesn’t want a writer working the grill who reads French existentialist essays for enjoyment? I’d rather sit on park benches and day dream, but that ain’t reality. I’ve got bills to pay in a broken America. Who wants a burger? Deep thoughts come free but an extra slice of cheese is extra.

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