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Opinion Editorials

The REality of This Thing We Do



The REality

This entity we call Agent Genius consists of hundreds of contributions a day, not only in posts, but in commentary, not to mention the thousands of folks we reach weekly, monthly and soon to be annually.

The contribution that all of you (which includes all of the above) make to this profession is felt, it does make an impact and if we do nothing else here at Ag, we respect that.

With That Respect Comes Complicated Decisions

We (as the moderators) have a responsibility to the greater audience to keep our hands out of the organic mix and allow things to grow until they cease to grow any longer- then it becomes our responsibility to make decisions that nurture, and sometimes they’re not easy decisions to make.

We’ve built Ag from the ground up with our bare hands, it is a labor of love I assure you- many have commented to this fact many times even here on Ag at just how much work goes into something that really gives little payback in the form of money- I assure you, this is no lasseiz-faire activity.

Ag has many times come at a high price to even our own family, and daily lives as our clients must rank just as high as Ag does on our shoulders in priority- you would be on task to imagine many many sleepless nights managing and grooming such a large venture, but it is all worth it when you receive things like this by email:

I’m loving what I see all around me. I was excited about real estate, but now I’m finding myself REALLY excited. There’s lots of cool things happening that I think will change real estate for the better (Ratespeed? FREAKING awesome to see that kind of transparency in the mortgage business) and I want to be a part of it all. I give thanks to you and the help/introductions you’ve given me. –Matthew Stigliano

Ag is bigger than just one individual, we’ve always understood that- and when you read notes like the one above, it really hits home how important it is to make the decisions we make to remain on task and on point.

The Business of Finding Greatness

We make decisions sparingly that cause confrontation, it is in the Ag nature to find the middle and teach about it. We’re not in the business of highlighting failure, we’re in the business of reaching for and finding greatness. We do it in a superhuman way, one that describes our own failures but in turn demonstrates a willingness to continue to try, adapt, and change using every possible tool at our disposal. Our contributors are living breathing examples of what they teach, and continue to lead the way adopting new tools, technology, and strategies to make our business better.

It is always regrettable when something meant in good spirit and good fun effects good people in bad ways and when we recognize it, we’re going to fix it. Our mission is to quickly find the middle and move exactly to the most logical course to complete the mission we set out to achieve while remembering that there is a human being on the other side of every screen and at the other end of every speculation.

To those that know us, and our heart, we thank you for the benefit of the doubt and it is in that spirit that we continue to set the brightest example of professionalism in our industry.

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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  1. Matt Wilkins

    July 17, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Well put Benn. I also think that our various backgrounds and local markets adds to the degree of insight and wealth of infomration that this si\te provides.

  2. Jason Sandquist

    July 17, 2008 at 10:38 am

    To everybody at AG, thank you for your contributions and they never go overlooked. Believe me, I have found so much helpful and useful info on this site. More than I would ever find anywhere else. Whenever I first hop on the computer, this almost always the first place I check out.

    Just keep ‘keepin it real’

  3. Kris Berg

    July 17, 2008 at 10:54 am


    Well said. Like everything you do here, that was class. I know how hard you have both worked to create something positive and meaningful, and I am sending you my virtual standing-O.

  4. Bill Lublin

    July 17, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Nicely done. Communites aren’t built overnight, nor do they build themselves. But AG is a classy neighborhood with some interesting inhabitants and visitors. And lots of interesting stories.

  5. Gia & Grant Freer

    July 17, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Benn, Lani, many of us would echo your sentiments and it’s particularly touching when people wear their hearts on their sleeves and share their thoughts and feelings as you have. Gia and I not only appreciate what you go through, but look forward every day to the many new posts and insightful opinions that we discover on AG. For us, AG represents a creative and valuable learning tool for opinion, a compelling destination for the exchange of ideas, that includes an eclectic mix of viewpoints as well as the presentation and review of new technologies that can make a difference for all of us. The creativity behind the changing daily feed reader headings for example is a testament to the attention to detail that ultimately distinguishes AG as a benchmark for all of us to follow. As my father used to say to me, if you focus on the small things, the big things always have a habit of taking care of themselves. Not only does AG take care of the small things beautifully well, but the big things, like today and yesterday, are handled with particular care and class.

  6. The Harriman Team

    July 17, 2008 at 10:58 am

    I’m with Jason. Of the more than 100 feeds in my reader, I enjoy, and learn more from, none more than AgentGenius. The quality of posts here are, IMHO, far superior to any other RE blog I read, and the cast of contributors is unmatched anywhere. If I were to delete all my subscriptions and keep only one, AG would be that one. Benn, you and Lani and the other Geniuses have created an environment that continues to challenge, inform, teach and stimulate the rest of us and often serves as a kick in our complacency. I for one applaud what you have created and the style, professionalism and FUN you exhibit on a daily basis. Keep the faith, guys. You’re doin’ fine.

  7. Ken Smith

    July 17, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Keep up the good work.

  8. Vicki Moore

    July 17, 2008 at 11:31 am

    At the time I was asked, I was so excited to join AG. That feeling has never changed. And I feel that excitement every time I read a post. I’m grateful to be a part of this growing community and offer the little bit I do.

    I respect this group and its readers and want to continue to learn from the experts who cross the AG path.

    Kumbaya baby!

  9. Matt Stigliano

    July 17, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Benn and Lani – I said it already, but I’ll say it again.

    I love it and thanks.

    To everyone else – A thanks to you too. Its not just Lani and Benn that I read…so from the actual posts to the comments, I think its a great site. I’ve learned something new just about every day and think that I get more “real world” info from here than anywhere else I’ve been to read posts or articles or news stories or case studies…you get the picture. On top of that, I’ve found everyone to be welcoming and helpful, which is one thing that I find invaluable. I know who I can ask a “stupid” question to when I feel like I just don’t understand something. I know who I can bug about ideas for technology and how to use it. I know who makes great spaghetti sauce (ok, so that’s not really real estate related, but I’m always thinking of food). So I not only appluad Agentgenius and what they’ve created here for my use, but also the contributors and readers for the community they’re building. I hope to be a productive part of that as time goes on and add my two cents where ever I can.

    I was about to finish this up, but wanted to add…I also like the fact that I have read dissenting and conflicting opinions occasionally in here. I think that all knowledge is good knowledge, so bring it on…fill my tiny head up with more…whether good/bad or wrong/right. I’ll make sense of it all through my own choices and decisions (and actions).

  10. Vance Shutes

    July 17, 2008 at 11:58 am


    If you build it, they will come. And, we have. Thanks for doing what you do, at the cost you do it for. We appreciate your efforts and learn from them.

    Now, onward, through the fog!

  11. teresa boardman

    July 17, 2008 at 1:35 pm


    You and the lovely Lani do a wonderful job with managing this blog. You leave the writers alone, let the ideas flow, take constructive criticism and stand behind you decisions and your beliefs. You look for ways to make the blog even better, and make us all look like pro’s when we write here. Not that I need help but it has not escaped my attention that you have helped me out a couple of times in comments, and Lani is always there to fix my little messes when I can’t make a pretty blog post. She never did send me the poop less poney or the red mittens but it is the thought that counts. I don’t know anyone who does as good of a job with all this as you guys do. Proud to be a contributer.

  12. Larry Yatkowsky

    July 17, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Ditto all of the above with Whipped Cream

    Thanks for inviting me to play in your sand box.

  13. Jay Thompson

    July 17, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Hear that?

    It’s applause coming from Phoenix, AZ….

  14. Matthew Rathbun

    July 17, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    AG is truly awesome and gives a prime example of what a “community” should be on-line. I’m am gald to see there are folks wiser than I making hard decisions on direction and forward thinking. Those who are here, are getting more in return than we as commenters or contributors give.

  15. Charleston real estate blog

    July 17, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Benn and Lani, I don’t know how you find the time in the day for all you do with AG. In my opinion, there is no site more important in the re net for me to visit and many thanks to both of you for being there every day.

  16. Benn Rosales

    July 17, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    If I effected anyone with my improper use of the word “effect,” I’m affectively sorry for any adverse affects you may be affected with.

    Thanks, Ol’ Skewl! 🙂

    To all of you here- I think you already know what I’m thinkin… shucks…

  17. ines

    July 17, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    no seriously – you guys ROCK!! Benn and Lani have created an amazing place (sing along)……where everybody knows your name……..and they’re always glad you came……even “Ol Skewl”

  18. Chris Lengquist

    July 17, 2008 at 10:12 pm


    What you and L have created is a shining example of what real estate can offer to it’s own and to the public at large. Keep up the great work. You two are at the top of any of my lists.

    Much love from KC.

  19. Mack in Atlanta

    July 18, 2008 at 5:48 am

    Taking what you have built for granted was easy. There were just so many great articles and super contributors in the form of authors and comments. Backing up for just a moment I want to say Thank You to all who contribute here. You are each and every one helping to educate all who visit.

  20. Missy Caulk

    July 18, 2008 at 5:55 am

    This is my favorite place to come early in the morning and late at night. I love being able to comment and not get slammed for my comment. Many good writers and mentors. If I haven’t said it, “thank you”, both.

  21. Eric Blackwell

    July 19, 2008 at 3:03 am


    I write on several blogs…and I actually comment on very few. Yours is one. To the writers (I know some of you…great work). To you and Lani- thanks for creating a good place to be. If you look really close at that virtual standing O that Kris is giving you, you will see me there too. I am the one holding up a lighter (GRIN).


  22. Paula Henry

    July 19, 2008 at 7:52 am

    How do I love thee – okay a bit Shakesperean, but, the truth, I learn something new here everyday. Often times, it’s in the comments. The shared comraderie and respect here has no equal in the blogosphere. Sending my love to Austin 🙂

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Opinion Editorials

Dopamine detox to rewire your brain from internet addiction (it’s common!)

(EDITORIAL) So, you’re addicted to the internet. Whether your drug of choice is scrolling, posting, or interacting – it’s time for a dopamine detox.



Upside down photo of man holding iphone case saying "social media seriously harms your mental health" representing dopamine.

Ah, smartphones. The best friend we can carry around in our pockets. This small device that’s nearly glued to our hands gives us instant access to many worlds.

It’s exciting to see what’s up on Instagram, take up to six stabs at Wordle, and scroll recipes you’ll never make on Pinterest. It’s also a place where we can share the highlights of our life and, in return, get validation through likes.

With that validation comes a small rush of dopamine, something we’ve all become accustomed – and some of us addicted – to.

While I’m not addicted to posting, I would say I have an addiction to scrolling. I can’t make it through a 50-minute episode of “Dexter” without picking up my phone to check an app or two.

And there is that dopamine rush with it, where you feel like you’re the most up-to-date you’ve ever been. But what about when this becomes too much and we’re overloaded with information and feel bogged down by the constant updates?

First, we need to understand what dopamine is.

It’s a neurotransmitter that works in two spots in the brain: first, its production helps us begin movement and speech. Second, we feel it when we receive or expect a reward. It even creates a kind of “high” similar to what’s found in nicotine and cocaine.

So, if we expect these dopamine hits from social media and we don’t get those results, the dopamine crashes to the ground creating burnout.

Well, this can cause burnout. And, while tempting, the solution isn’t as easy as just deleting all of your social media and walking away clean. Additionally, “take a break” features are too easy to swipe away.

So what can you do?

Mana Ionescu at Lightspan Digital recommends a Dopamine Detox.

While breaking an addiction takes longer than a day, Ionescu recommends starting there and tailoring it to your needs.

Here is what she describes is necessary for a detox:

  1. Turn off all notifications on your phone. ALL of them. You will be looking at your phone every 10 minutes as it is. You won’t miss anything. We lose endless hours of productivity because of those pings.
  2. Tell people to call you if it’s urgent. And teach them the difference between urgent and important. So do keep call notifications on.
  3. Stop over-messaging. The more you message, the more you’ll get responses.
  4. Shed the pressure to respond right away to messages that don’t need a response right away.
  5. Take detox days. Nothing but calls, confirming meetings, and using the GPS is allowed on those days.
  6. Put your phone on sleep mode at night. You can, at least on iPhone, set permissions so that certain phone numbers can get through, in case you’re worried about mom.
  7. If you’re dating, remember that texting is for laughing, flirting, and confirming plans. Please pick up the phone and talk to that person to get to know them. I will not take you seriously if you just keep texting.
  8. And yes, we all know the game, whoever looks at their phone first over dinner picks up the bill.

This won’t be easy, but your brain will likely thank you in the long run. And, when you’re back online, hit up the comments and let us know how the detox went!

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Opinion Editorials

Strong leaders can use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) In the COVID-19 crisis, some leaders fumbled through it, while others quietly safeguarded their company’s future.



strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how strong leaders can see their teams, their companies, and their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always but is amplified when a crisis occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve their teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything was disrupted and people are adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when leaders game plan, strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

7 sure-fire ways to carve out alone time when you’re working from home

(EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.



Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need downtime, me-time, and self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health but also our productivity at work will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well-rested, and well-treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time while working from home.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keep us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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