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Three Geniuses Walk Into a Bar…

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Redhead Piano bar 

Folks, I have compiled the first in a series of helpful discussions between three leaders in our industry…and moi – the court jester. This first installment includes the following illustrious crew: Brandie Young, Ken Brand and Paula Henry. They were directed to answer my questions in ten words or less. These respected business persons can teach you a lot about real estate and marketing. The other one is an idiot, but she can show you where all the bodies in Hollywood are buried.  This may have been an online discussion, but I want you to imagine all four of us sitting in our favorite pub discussing sales, real estate, and the economy. Ken, of course, is outnumbered, but as a result, he is enjoying all the attention. I am head down in a bowl of beer nuts…but you probably already knew that: 

GBB: What is the best way to get new clients?  PH: Internet leads BY: From current or past clients. KB: … Find fun people, mix-mingle-interact-converse-listen-share-ask questions-discover-solve problems. GBB: You broke the ten word rule Ken. Kindly put a dollar in the jar. Okay, so we were talking new clients – well, I do pretty well down at Hollywood and Vine. Oh wait, we’re talking real estate… In that case, blackmail is an effective tool. That’s what makes L.A. work – just ask the National Enquirer. Oh, puh-leeze, don’t pretend you never do that! 

GBB: What characteristic do you most like in a client? BY: Engaged, enthusiastic… KB: A funny, friendly good looking, whip smart, recently homeless person with a million dollars cash and no where to live, until we find them a home. GBB: Gimme another buck, Ken.  PH: Sense of humor GBB: Duh! Lakers Tickets! 

GBB: What characteristic do you least like in a client? BY: Nit-pick, whiny. PH: Micro managing a process/project they know nothing about.  Oh, and when they can’t pay. GBB: Why are you looking at me when you say that, Paula? Lani is paying for this.  KB: If people are disrespectful, I dump them. GBB:  I hate ankle monitoring bracelets. I’m just saying… 

GBB: What can an agent do to assist with an appraisal now that we have the new HVCC guidlines? BY: Make certain the appraiser actually knows the area. PH: Not sure anyone has this figured out. GBB: I concur. Another chili in your Bloody Mary, Brandie?  KB: We provide our appraisers with an appraisal package.  Updated comps and a laundry list of any and all improvements… GBB: If the appraiser is a woman, I bring a Prada bag full of chocolates. If it’s a guy, I bring Pamela Anderson

GBB: What is your opinion of Real Estate reality shows? KB: They’re stupid.  Put me in one, I’d sell circles around those clowns.  Actually, I find some of the negotiating stuff interesting. GBB: Ken, for a genius, you sure can’t count. But that’s okay, I’m an idiot savant myself. Gimme another buck. PH:  [Reality Shows] are so not real. BY: [Reality Shows] crack me up!  That one in LA is so far out of reality, it’s hysterical.  GBB: Actually, all of L.A. is beyond reality, dahling. I was on “Flip That House,” and all I got out of it was a stalker. Matter of fact, he looked a lot like you, Ken. Uncanny resemblance… I’m packing pepper spray, Ken! 

GBB: What is your opinion of bus bench ads? BY: We don’t really have buses in my area.  I think this is community specific. PH: Only Teresa Boardman’s virtual bus bench is worth the price. I don’t want anyone sitting on me.  GBB: I’m confused. Who’s Teresa Boardman? Did I miss something when I was in the rest room? Bench ads to you, Ken.  KB:  Generally speaking, “Lame.” Unless it’s an enormous picture of me and someone else paid for it. GBB: Love ‘em! When someone carves gang signs in my paper forehead I consider it a sign of deep affection. Ken, you REALLY look familiar… Is that a restraining order in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? 

GBB: What do you like best about your job? BY: I don’t work for a__holes any longer.  I get to pick and choose with whom I work and I can fire clients when our agency isn’t a good fit. GBB: You said a bad word, Brandie. Put a dollar in the jar. No, I’ll hold the jar. Let go, dangit – the cash is mine! KB: Being the boss of my self.  Picking and choosing who I work with.  My raise is effective as soon as I am. GBB: That’s clever, Ken. You really should consider a bus bench ad.  PH: No two days are alike.  Getting to the closing table; not because I get paid, but the sense of accomplishment. GBB: I like happy hour. No, Ken, I don’t work here, and stop bogarting the peanuts! Who’s buying the next round? 

GBB: What is your most successful means of advertising? BY: I am very interested to see what people say here.  Would love to see a mix of very small town/community answers vs. others. GBB: You are a regular brain trust, Brandie. Will you take my brokers’ exam for me please?  PH: Internet GBB: Paula, I love how you are both brilliant AND succinct. You are the only one who followed the ten word rule. …Paula? Somebody wake her up so she can tip the waitress.  KB: Traditional advertising is like earning a fast nickel.  Personal relationship building, on-purpose and in-person contact is a slow dollar.  Go for the dollar. GBB: Nice. I have business card with a hologram of myself. I tell people I am virtually there whenever they need me. Also, bad publicity is a real pay-off in my town. Hence my desire to jump up on this table and start dancing. 

GBB: What subjects other than real estate would be advisable for prospective agents to study? KB:  How to write and speak persuasively.  Social Media marketing and relationship building strategies.  How to live in the now… GBB: Right! Where were we? PH: How to interpret data as it applies to the likelihood an area will thrive.  BY: Appraisal GBB: Man, I’m outta my league here – I was going to say “animal husbandry.” Why are you all taking away my car keys? 

GBB: What will your real estate tombstone say? KB: Cheers Friends.  It was FUN.  I’ll be back. GBB: Brandie? Brandie? (Brandie didn’t answer this one.) Did we offend her? Don’t look at me, Ken. It was your idea to put half a jar of chilies in her Bloody Mary. Maybe she’ll forgive us before our next get together. So, what will your real estate tombstone say, Paula? PH: She sold her last home. GBB: I like that. I guess mine will say, uh…’Good till the last drop?’ No, no…make that, ‘This escrow closed on time.’ No, No, I don’t like that one. How ‘bout “Death by Hollywood?” Now back to you, Ken…you look strangely familiar – even with that party umbrella tucked behind your ear.… 

Thanks to my colleagues for their valuable input and their willingness to participate in the fun. Ken Brand, a veteran in real estate, is the Real Estate Sales Manager of Prudential Gary Green Realtors  in Woodlands, Texas. Paul Henry is the dynamo leader of the top notch Henry Group at Red Door Real Estate in Indianapolis. Brandie Young is a San Francisco marketing guru, trail blazer and founder of consulting firm MarketingTBD. Host Gwen Banta is the L.A. based realtor who is only allowed out of Sunnyside Home for the Demented on weekends and holidays. (Lani, did you pay our bar bill yet?)

I wear several hats: My mink fedora real estate hat belongs to Sotheby’s International Realty on the world famous Sunset Strip. I’M not world famous, but I've garnered a few Top Producer credits along the way. I also wear a coonskin writer's cap with an arrow through it, having written a few novels and screenplays and scored a few awards there, too. (The arrow was from a tasteless critic.) My sequined turban is my thespian hat for my roles on stage, and in film and television, Dahling. You can check me out in all my infamy at LinkedIn, LAhomesite.com, SherlockOfHomes, IMDB or you can shoot arrows at my head via email. I can take it.

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56 Comments

56 Comments

  1. Matt Stigliano

    March 12, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Gwen – Another instant classic. Despite all the humor, there’s actually some good stuff in there. You and Ken in a bar? I imagine that would get very funny. Maybe AgentGenius should sponsor some coast to coast flights for real meet ups of the writers like this. Can you imagine what might come out of a collaborative effort between two writers set loose on a city for a weekend? I volunteer to be the driver when you and Ken do your weekend.

  2. Gwen Banta

    March 12, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    You’re on, Matt! Let’s get a pool going so we can all meet in Austin. You drive, Lani gets drinks, and I’ll cover snacks and bail money. Ken, Paula and Brandie will guard the door, because Loomer will probably show up wearing a cheese head or a Carmen Miranda hat.

    Seriously, I’m glad you liked our virtual get together – Ken Paula and Brandie have so much wisdom to offer, so I wanted to get it out there in a fun format. I have very little wisdom to impart except “more olives,” but I am a great moderator. I sent you and Joe and a few other the questions also (via your professional website contact info), but I’m not sure who got them and who didn’t. I get spamed a lot because most email programs know a dodgy broad when they see one.

  3. Paula Henry

    March 12, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Gwen – I knew if I wasn’t succinct, I would have to pay. Coast to coast bar hopping; now that’s a novel idea and Agent Genius is hosting. I could meet all my favorite people in one airplane ride, first class, all the booze is free and oh, the stories we could tell 🙂 Thanks for including me in your Virtual bar mashup. It really was a great night.
    BTW – did you tip the waitress for me.

  4. Brandie Young

    March 12, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Fun post! Next time I say we do have the drinks! Just two thoughts:

    1. Gwen, at $1 per bad word I could go broke quickly.
    2. I’m not the best choice to guard the door from Loomer …

    p.s. For the record, I’ve been to the Redhead Piano Bar (love!)

  5. Gwen Banta

    March 12, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks for being there, Paula – The waitress got stiffed, but I had to tip the doorman who carried you to your car 🙂

  6. Gwen Banta

    March 12, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    3 Things Brandie:
    1. You owe me some friggin money, potty mouth.
    2. Of course you’ve been to the Redhead – you go to all the fun spots because you know how to enjoy life.
    3. You are right – No one could guard the door against Loomer…but next time you’ll probably discover that he’s already there… somewhere under a bar stool…right next to a heap of flesh that looks like me…passed out in Joe’s Carmen Miranda hat.

  7. Greg Cooper

    March 12, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    You people must slow down! There are far too many great visualizations that I have not had time to ponder. Now…who’s got the Carmen Miranda hat on again?

  8. Gwen Banta

    March 12, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Joe Loomer, one of our craziest contributors and a virtual tavern denizen, was wearing the hat until I had my third martini. However, when I passed out, some sly guy grabbed it off my head, donned it and started doing a tango. He looked suspiciously like you, Greg. Do you have the hat? If so, order another round!

  9. Joe Loomer

    March 12, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    By my count, Gwen owes more than Ken. Pay up !

    I’ve got a great idea for the next one you do! You can call it Paula’s MIBAR mashup!!! Or was that MIBOR, maybe I had too much to drink playing “one shot for every word Brandie uses, two for Paula, and one for every five Ken uses.” Damn you Ken Brand, your uppance will come!

    For Gwen’s neck of the woods, I also think she left out a gender in her Appraiser bag of “tricks.”

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  10. Gwen Banta

    March 12, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    My dear, Joe – Several corrections need to be made here:
    1. Rules never apply to me. I make them up as I go along. It keeps people on their toes.
    2. I have no money left for the jar because I had to pay bail for Ken.
    3. Paula doesn’t qualify for a mashup – she’s still in County.
    4. A third gender, Joe? Are you not telling us something? That explains your taste in hats 🙂

  11. Ken Brand

    March 12, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Heh, heh, how lucky am I? Drinks and three, shall we say, uniquely- gifted-women. Joe, step inside. No need to guard the door. We don’t need to concern ourselves with anyone getting in, we need keep these three from getting out. Lock it from the inside, will ya.

    Rules are made to be fractured, especially 10 word rules. Brandie’s right, I’m sure the first draft read raw and Pulp Fictionesque.

    Gwen does your holograph do anything else besides sorta-shimmer, i mean, is it interactive in anyway, you know, is it touch sensitive to finger swipes like an iPad?

    Ear umbrella? I don’t even know what that is, but if you like the way it looks, I’ll wear a set.

    TY;-)

  12. Joe Loomer

    March 12, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Oh Sweet Mother in Heaven. It’s on like Donkey Kong….

    Brandie won’t bar me from coming in AND she has a potty mouth? DO YOU PEOPLE NOT READ HOW I SIGN MY COMMENTS? Hellooooo?!? Does the phrase “……..like a drunken SAILOR” not ring a bell or two?

    We’ll make up our own sea chanties about this, I promise you. Songs will be sung!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  13. Gwen Banta

    March 12, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    My hologram sings, Ken – with Rock n Roll Realtor Matt Stigliano doing back up vocals and musical accompaniment. We’re called the Hologramaphones. Yes, my hologram is interactive, and it will slap you upside head the next time you tell some strange guy in a bar he can take me home if he pays you fifty cents. The paper umbrella was behind your ear as I recall, but that wasn’t nearly as distracting as those damn swizzle sticks that were up your nose. You did, however, look pretty cute. And somehow you managed to spew a lot of great bits of advice…like you always do.

  14. Gwen Banta

    March 12, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    We’re counting on you a for limericks, too, Joe. What other AG friends want to join us? Please let me know, and I will add you to the list so the bouncers, Fred Glick and Patrick Flynn, won’t crush you with their bare hands at the door. So who wants to come? I promise, “what happens at the Redhead stays at the Redhead”…unless, of course, police transport is involved.

  15. teresa boardman

    March 12, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    I invented the virtual bus bench. If you google virtual bus bench the first entry is my original and the second entry is my current bench. I have gotten business becasue of it too. Sometimes people like to work with people who are all that AND a bag of chips . . and that is what I am.

  16. Paula Henry

    March 12, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    T – And it was such a clever idea! Now you have a spot at #5 with this post 🙂

  17. Ken Brand

    March 12, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    I’m going to amen my original comment on bus benches. I’m saying it would be lame if, for example, my photo was a total body shot, me standing up, with a coat over my right shoulder and me holding a phone to my left ear, and my photo ran the length of the bench seat. You know what I’m talking about, when someone sat down, they could sit on my head or my chest or my polished shoes. That’s my new position on bench marketing.

    Cheers.

    PS. Matt has key. Matt let yourself in and lock the door behind you.

  18. Gwen Banta

    March 12, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Teresa, I want to be you. You are a bag ‘o chips and then some. My bus bench ads were real, and someone changed my moniker by crossing out the last ‘s’ in “Sherlock of Homes” and changing it to “Sherlock of Homeys.” Another ad was changed to “Sherlick of Hummus,” and they drew a tongue coming out of my mouth. L.A. – gotta love it! So now I want to have a virtual ad and avoid injury!

  19. Gwen Banta

    March 12, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Paula, you’re out of lockup!!!

  20. Gwen Banta

    March 12, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Ken, I think a shot of you with the swizzle sticks up your nose would get a lot of attention 🙂

    • Ken Brand

      March 12, 2010 at 10:59 pm

      hmmmmm. This swizzle-stick schick might have legs. But, I think it’s the kind-of attention getting play that I’d have to be talked and walked into, in person. When we meet, you can give it a whirl. If you want?

  21. Nashville Grant

    March 12, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    OMG – how in the h__L do I get invited to an agent genius bar discussion? I’ll hop a plane to LA so fast it will make the Southwest baggage handlers lose my luggage (like they need another excuse). My answers get so much better then longer we stay…

  22. Gwen Banta

    March 13, 2010 at 1:37 am

    Were meet ing again next week, ken – wear a nosr guard!

  23. Gwen Banta

    March 13, 2010 at 1:39 am

    OMG Ken – I looked drunk in that last message – flying fingers and no proof reading is what I am always griping about. Pot, meet kettle. Do we have spell check here? Helloooooo?

  24. Gwen Banta

    March 13, 2010 at 1:42 am

    Okay, Grant – you’re on for next week. I am sending you the questions so check your website email contact site. Once you supply the answers, you wil be sucked into our virtual bar at the Redhead. (They should be giving us a kickback for advertising.)

  25. Gwen Banta

    March 13, 2010 at 1:45 am

    Hey Gang, you’ll love this – a colleague just called because he thought I actually bought a bar called the Redhead (name chosen because of my auburn tresses). Can you just imagine me running a saloon? Hallelujah!

  26. Gwen Banta

    March 13, 2010 at 2:11 am

    ATTENTION: THERE IS NOW A PASSWORD TO GET INTO THE REDHEAD LOUNGE VIRTUAL BAR. FIVE BUCKS TO THE FIRST PERSON TO GUESS IT!

    • Ken Brand

      March 13, 2010 at 10:45 am

      The password is, “I’m Super-Fly T.N.T.

      Pay Up.

  27. teresa boardman

    March 13, 2010 at 5:46 am

    Gwen that even happens with virtual bus benches, Bus benches just invite vandalism. It is like they were built to be vandalized. Mine was hit in April of 2007 by Kristal Kraft. It is unclear if she did it to showcase her artistic skills or if she was jealous because I have a virtual bus bench and she dies not. In any case you can find her work here https://www.stpaulrealestateblog.com/weenie/2007/04/kirstal_kraft_n.html

  28. Paula Henry

    March 13, 2010 at 6:20 am

    Oh Grant – did you really ask for this 🙂

    Thanks for the bail Gwen, now I can enjoy my weekend pass.

  29. Joe Loomer

    March 13, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I’m thinking the password has to be “Sherlick”

  30. Gwen Banta

    March 13, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Paula, we need to encourage Grant – he’s buying! Ken and Joe, you are short of a full deck with your passwords, but nice try. Hint: 3 words that will guarantee that we open the door for you. Remember, this is the Redhead Bar!

  31. Dan Connolly

    March 13, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Carpet matches drapes?

    • Ken Brand

      March 13, 2010 at 11:40 pm

      Are we assuming wall-to-wall carpet? Throw rugs or no rugs?

      The password guessing came befuddles me.

  32. Joe Loomer

    March 13, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Dan beat me to it. That or “don’t feed animals”

  33. Tanya Nouwens

    March 13, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    “All that AND a bag o’ chips.” My new favourite saying of all time.

  34. Gwen Banta

    March 13, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    BEEEEEP – Dan and Joe just blew it, but thanks for trying. The password is actually 3 words, total of 10 letters, and the phrase implies “generosity in a bar.” No, Joe, it’s not “Kiss Me Edna.”

  35. Gwen Banta

    March 13, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Incidentally, Tanya Nouwens Gurberg and Joe Loomer will be part of next week’s revelry at the Redhead. They are both very smart…but a pack ‘o wacko, so hold onto your knickers everyone! Paula, Ken and Brandie will be back if they aren’t extradited before Friday.

  36. Gwen Banta

    March 13, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    Un, Ken – you’ll have to get the answer to your question in private from Dan because it’s R Rated. But I love your choice of the word “befuddled.” I expect you to slip it into the next virtual discussion. Oh who are we kidding – you know I’ll do that for you! What song will you be singing karaoke to next week? (Tanya, you’re on deck after Ken. )

  37. Gwen Banta

    March 14, 2010 at 12:16 am

    Hey “DeanSellsAZ.com” – Thanks for the Top Ten Post nod. But only THREE geniuses??? What about moi? I must respectfully inform you that it takes amazing talent and an IQ of at least 75 to pry cocktail onions out of one’s nose after a night at the Redhead Bar…especially after a celery lobotomy (hence my resolution to swear off Bloody Marys.) You’re welcome to join us anytime, but you must buy the first round! 🙂

  38. Gwen Banta

    March 14, 2010 at 1:42 am

    Teresa, your bench ads are fabulous. I must admit, however, that you are much more attractive without the moustache. Don’t you think you and I should waltz on over to Krystal Kraft’s site and sabotage her? You’re on my team…so I am ready to kick some a__ for you. What do you say, team – who’s with me???

  39. Gwen Banta

    March 14, 2010 at 1:49 am

    Incidentally, Teresa, I agree with Tanya Nouwens that your slogan is one of the best EVER. Maybe Kristal has a Mr. Potato Head fetish and can’t bear the thought of him being sliced up for a bag ‘o Teresa Boardman Kick-ass Chips. Deal with it Kristal – the potato head is going down!

  40. Fred Glick

    March 16, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Bouncer? I’m a hockey goalie on the ice. Not a bouncer off!

  41. Gwen Banta

    March 16, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    We need not only your brains, but your hockey goalie braun, Fred. I heard you take no prisoners – so welcome to the Redhead Lounge!

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Business Marketing

Easy email signature builder quickly updates your info

(BUSINESS MARKETING) When’s the last time you updated your email signature? That long? You might want to look at just sign, a new, quick, and easy, email signature generator.

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just sign email

The last thing any of us are thinking about right now is email. While we’re all staying safer at home, though, it’s a good time to think about all the little things that need our attention, but typically get neglected: clearing out the email inbox, unsubscribing from things no longer relevant, and updating our email signatures. Why the email signature?

Oftentimes, we change emails when we change jobs and forget to change our signatures to reflect our new address. The same is true with social media; if we happen to change jobs, due to our own choice or by necessity thanks to the virus, we may need to update our social media profiles accordingly, especially if the new job suddenly makes this a requirement.

One of the fastest ways to update your email signature is with a generator. An email signature generator can help you quickly make a professional looking signature in about half the time it would take you to manually add each individual component.

Just Sign is one of the quickest options I’ve seen. This email signature generator is ultra simple, ultra easy, and ultra effective. It allows you to add clickable social links, a profile picture or logo, and all relevant contact information. It also allows you to choose a color scheme and tailor the formatting a bit to your preferences. As you begin to add options to your signature, you can see a preview of what the final product will look like in the right-hand panel.

Just Sign welcome

This allows you to make any necessary changes before downloading the finished product. When you have your signature perfected, simply click the purple “generate signature” button and you’re ready to go.

Just Sign is an easy, quick way to check another thing off your to-do list while we’re all at home. If you have already updated your signature, you might save this link for later use as it’s a good idea to revisit your signature a few times a year. Oftentimes, I revise mine simply to keep the attached picture updated. Have you updated your signature lately? Do you plan to? Let us know what you think of Just Sign.

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Business Marketing

How one employer beat an age discrimination lawsuit

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Age discrimination is a rare occurrence but still something to be battled. It’s good practice to keep your house in order to be on the right side.

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Jewel age discrimination

In January, the EEOC released its annual accounting for reports of discrimination in the previous year. Allegations of retaliation were the most frequently filed charge, which disability coming in second. Age discrimination cases accounted for 21.4% of filed charges. As we’ve reported before, not all age discrimination complaints rise to the level of illegal discrimination. In Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., the federal court dismissed the claims of age discrimination, even though seven (7) plaintiffs made similar claims against the grocery store.

What Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores was about

In Cesario, all but one of the seven plaintiffs had spent years with Jewel Food building their careers. When Jewel went through some financial troubles, the plaintiffs allege that they began to “experience significant pressure at work… (and) were eventually forced out or terminated because of their age or disability.” Jewel Food requested summary judgment to dismiss the claims.

The seven plaintiffs made the same type of complaints. Beginning in 2014, store directors were under pressure to improve metrics and customer satisfaction. Cesario alleges that the Jewel district manager asked about his age. Another director alleges that younger store directors were transferred to stores with less difficulties. One plaintiff alleged that Jewel Food managers asked him about his retirement. The EEOC complaints began in late 2015. The plaintiffs retired or were fired and subsequently filed a lawsuit against their company.

Age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA). The ADEA prevents disparate treatment based on age for workers over 40 years old. However, plaintiffs who allege disparate treatment must establish that the adverse reactions wouldn’t have occurred but for age. Because none of the plaintiffs could specifically point to age as the only determination of their case, the court dismissed the case.

A word to wise businesses

Jewel Food was able to demonstrate their own actions in the case through careful documentation. Although there was no evidence that age played a factor in any discharge decision, Jewel Food could document their personnel decisions across the board. The plaintiffs also didn’t exhaust all administrative remedies. This led to the case being dropped.

Lesson learned – Make personnel decisions based on performance and evidence. Don’t use age as a factor. Keep documentation to support your decisions.

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Business Marketing

in 2021 the EU will enforce ‘right to repair’ for phones and tablets

(BUSINESS NEWS) The EU says NO to planned obsolescence by…letting you fix your own stuff? The right to repair has started to make headway again.

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Right to repair

Not to be a loyalist turncoat about it, but sometimes the European Union comes out with stuff that makes me want Texas to go back to being Mexico, and then back to being Spain.

The latest in sustainability news from across the pond is that in 2021, the Old World is saying no to Euro-trash, and insisting on implementing:

Right to repair laws
Higher sustainable materials quotas
Ease of transfer for replaced items (ie: letting you sell your old phone without the need for jailbreaking anything)
and Universal adaptors for things like phone chargers, and connection cables

Hallelujah!

Consumers worldwide have been feeling the pinch of realizing their (cough cough, mostly Apple brand) technology not only breaks easily, but either can’t be fixed afterwards, or requires costly branded repairs.

The phenomenon has given rise to rogue mobile repair shops, Reddit threads, and renegade fix-it philanthropists like Louis Rossman. And while they certainly HELP, the best thing for a problem is to cut it off proactively. Since companies were making too much money not picking up the slack, the EU’s decided to take the steps to force their hands.

I’m always on my soapbox, but I’ll stack another one on top for this: Planned obsolescence and the assumption that a company has any right to tell you you can’t repair, restore, revamp, or re-home your own possessions are obscene. And to be fair to Apple fans, it’s not just in tech—it’s in damn near everything that’s not meant to be EATEN. Literally.

I bought a STAPLER for a volunteer gig I had. A good, sturdy Staedtler one that I figured would serve the project and continue to stand me in good stead for a while. After a few dozen price tags attached to baggies, the stapler jammed, as staplers do. No worries, you find a knife and wedge out the stuck staple…except I couldn’t. Because the normal slot for that was covered by a metal plate literally welded in place so that I couldn’t perform a grade-school level fix on something I paid for less than 24 hours prior.

Rather than stand behind a product that’s supposed to last, companies, even down to simple office ware, have opted to tinker away to force consumers to trash their current products to buy newer ones. Which I did in the stapler case. A rusty second hand one that didn’t HAVE that retroactive BS ‘Let’s create a problem’ plate on it, meaning no company but the resale non-profit I was helping out in the first place got any more money from me.

Consumers are wising up, and fewer lawmakers are still stuck in the fog of the 90s and 2000s surrounding our everyday machinery. The gray areas are settling into solid black and white, and SMART smart-businesses here stateside will change their colors accordingly.

Now while we’re all still quarantined and hoping for these laws to wash up onto American shores…who has craft ideas for the five-dozen different chargers we all have?

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