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Opinion Editorials

Tragedy Begets Hope – Meet Kennedy

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People all the time make silly comments about what they’re grateful for, and I’m the first to admit that I too have engaged in silly dismissals of what the Thanksgiving holiday means. I guess looking back to childhood and learning of the holiday and where it comes from, it’s easy to detach yourself from it until things happen in your life that really put into perspective what matters most.

This week, Lani and I celebrate our three year old’s birthday; his name is Kennedy. I don’t speak of Kennedy very often, not even with Lani, mostly because he died the very day he was born and it’s a very hard subject to bring up- I mean, when is there a good time for such a tragic conversation, especially considering that just a short while later, Lani’s 23 year old brother Aaron was killed in a car accident? It never seems like a great time to bring up sorrowful things, but this Thanksgiving is very different.

I’ve been talking to Lani a lot more lately about our son and our brother Aaron, and in those conversations the grief seems to lift. It seems suddenly that tragedy can lead to conversations of hope, love, and yes, laughter at memories that happened, or ones that we imagine through hopes and dreams that never had a chance to materialize- it seems that Lani had a lot to say too that she’s felt awkward to mention. Again, it just never seems to be the time or the place.

This Thanksgiving, our conversations, thoughts, and hopes are more about the things we’ve been unable to see because of so many things unsaid. This Thanksgiving is about how wonderful life is even in the face of tragedy, how grateful we are to have one another, and a few years later, all of you- our dear friends, and yes, even those of you who are not so friendly.

It is in the face of tragedy that we’ve come to be in your company, graced every day with your lives, your hopes, dreams, laughter, smiles, frowns, newborns, and those not-so-newborn anymore.

This Thanksgiving we wanted to share something very personal with all of you that means so much to us, to help illustrate just how thankful we really are for all of you- our friends and colleagues. This is the first time that I’ve spoken publicly about our son and I rarely talk about my personal life, especially on Agent Genius, but I wanted to share some of us with you.

To many, the online community seems without a soul, but sometimes, if you really want to, you can see the person on the other side- people just like you, with problems, tragedy, and struggles, just like us- human to the core.

God Bless, and may you all have a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving.

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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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Robert Luna

    November 26, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    You both are wonderful and beautiful people and I am very lucky to have friends like you, have a great Thanksgiving you two.

  2. Steve Simon

    November 26, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Thinking good thoughts for you and yours this season:)

  3. Jay Thompson

    November 26, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Benn – thanks for sharing. We’ve had our own tragedy this past week, and it truly does make one thankful for friends and family and the little things we often take for granted.

    You and Lani are fabulous people, and I’m honored to know you.

    Wishing all those out there a warm and happy Thanksgiving.

  4. The Harriman Team

    November 26, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    We can totally relate, Benn. After 2 miscarriages, our son and his wife’s first child, Colin, was born prematurely 3 years ago on Nov. 11th, and survived only 45 short, precious minutes. The pain is dulled, but still there, and not a day goes by that we don’t think of him and give thanks for our own lives. Though we’ve never met, we feel an affinity with you that goes beyond the world of social media. Thank you for sharing such a painful, intimate part of yourselves with us, and may God bless you and Lani this holiday season.

  5. Matt Stigliano

    November 26, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Benn – It goes without saying that I am fond of you two (but I seem to say it all the time). Reading this and knowing you two, makes me feel a little more connected to you, shows a side we don’t always get to see and is much appreciated in terms of being more than just “the two that run AgentGenius” but more our friends, mentors, and biggest cheerleaders. I hope we all return the favor to you everyday.

    Your last paragraph really sums up what I learned about real estate thanks to social media. I thought all agents would be closed and not be willing to share with me (business and personal), but I was well wrong. I have met some great people who I might not even recognize their real face if it was in front of me (but if they were holding up an avatar I’d know in a second), but if they needed something, I’d be there for them in a heartbeat.

    My thoughts are with you and I’m glad to hear that you and Lani are talking about it. I suck at talking sometimes, but I know what a difference it can make.

  6. Russell Shaw

    November 26, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Very beautiful.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  7. Brad Nix

    November 27, 2008 at 7:53 am

    Thanks for sharing. And reminding me of the pain and sadness that comes with losing a child. It makes us even more THANKFUL today as we have our 6 month old with us on his first Thanksgiving.

    Blessings Abound.

  8. Paula Henry

    November 27, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Benn and Lani – I’m thankful to know both of you. I love your total transparency and honesty.

    I first learned about you through the tragic loss of Lani’s brother. While I have never lost a sibling, I share the pain of the child you never had a chance to love and hold. Seven years ago, I watched as my daughter gave birth to a little girl who we knew would not live. Anele will not be here for Thanksgiving as her sisters will – but she will never be forgotten. In her short time, she left an indelible mark on our lives forever.

    Wishing you peace and love of family and friends this Thanksgiving as you remember those who will not be here to celebrate with you.

  9. Monika

    November 27, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Benn and Lani,
    Thank you for sharing such a painful part of your lives with us. It’s amazing how time gives one the gift of being able to remember such sad times and smile at the same time. The gift of healing…I think you’ll have an extra special Thanksgiving this year.

  10. Kris Berg

    November 27, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Happy Thanksgiving, Benn and Lani, and thank you for the opportunity to hang my hat here on occasion. It’s an honor. Have a wonderful day with family and each other.

  11. Dave Smith

    November 27, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Ben and Lani,

    Thank you for sharing and God’s blessing for you both.

    Ben,

    This is the best post I’ve read on Agent Genius. It went beyond our minds and hearts. Your words reach to the center of our being. I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Thank you.

  12. Bob

    November 27, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving Benn and Lani.

  13. Missy Caulk

    November 27, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Wow, I had no clue, and I am sorry to hear about Kennedy. Always good to clear the air, and let those walls come down.

    You inviting me to participate in AG was the highlight of my year and I am blessed to have you in my life.

  14. Mack

    November 28, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Sharing is Caring. Thanks for sharing and may you have the truly blessed holiday season that you deserve.

  15. Benn Rosales

    November 28, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Wow, this was one of those posts you write that you really expect little reaction if any at all. I can tell all of you that your comments were read one by one since the post was made live, and each one touched us both- we indeed had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and hope you did as well.

    Here’s to the future… God Bless.

  16. Irina Netchaev

    November 29, 2008 at 12:52 am

    Dear Benn & Lani,
    I just read this beautiful post and my heart goes out to you. It is impossible to imagine losing a child and a brother within a week.
    You are both strong and wonderful people and add joy to so many lives on a daily basis through this community.
    My belated Thanksgiving wishes to both.
    Many hugs!

  17. Bill Lublin

    November 30, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Benn & Lani;
    Nothing to add to what you already know about how I feel about you guys, glad you have each other to share with as well as your extended family

  18. Vicki Moore

    November 30, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    I can only imagine the thought that went into this post, especially just before you hit publish. It can be tremendously difficult to reveal something so private and painful. But pain is something we all feel and share. I share yours. And I thank you for being my friends.

  19. Lisa Sanderson

    November 30, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    That you’ve been able to find something positive in the worst that anyone can be expected to bear speaks volumes about your characters and spirits. There is nothing else to say except thank you for sharing this personal part of your story, and for being our friends.

  20. Poppy Dinsey

    December 1, 2008 at 5:33 am

    I’m gradually catching up with my feedreader so I know this is late but I couldn’t read such a beautiful and heartfelt post and not leave a comment 🙂

    You are both truly super and I think it’s really inspiring that you shared your story, it’s so easy for us to forget that we’re all humans and we all go through pain and sadness in our lives. Social media has given us all this massive support network that we always know is there like a giant cuddle.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you both, even if it does just feel like a distant calorific memory now!

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Opinion Editorials

Have an in-person job interview? 7 tips to crush the competition

EDITORIAL) While we all know the usual interview schtick, take some time to really study for your next face-to-face job interview.

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Job interview between two women.

So, you’re all scheduled for an in-person interview for a job you’d kill for. It’s exciting that you’ve made it to this step, but the question is, are you ready? Especially with remote interviews being the new norm, your nerves may feel shaken up a bit to interview in person – but you’ve got this! And many of these tips can be applied no matter the interview setting.

We all know the basics of a job interview: dress nice, get there early, come prepared, firm handshake, yada, yada, yada… However, it’s good to really sit and think about all of the requirements of a successful interview.

There are seven steps for crushing a face-to-face interview. Do your homework upside down and inside out in order to walk into that room.

Which brings us to the first step: know everything you need to know backwards and forwards.

This can be done in two steps: getting to know the company and getting to know yourself. By doing website, social media, and LinkedIn research, you can get a feel of the company culture as well as the position you’re interviewing for.

By getting to know yourself, have a friend ask you some interview questions so you can practice. Also, take a look at your resume through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know you. Make sure everything is clear and can compete with other candidates.

The next step is to anticipate solving future problems. Have some insight on the department that you are interviewing for and come prepared with ideas of how to better this department. (i.e. if it’s marketing, give examples of campaigns you’ve done in the past that have proven to have been successful.)

Step number three requires you to go back to the research board and get some information on the employer. Find out who you’re meeting with (head of HR, head of the department, etc.) and make your self-presentation appropriate for the given person.

Next, work on making the interview conversation a meaningful one. This can be done by asking questions as people like to see you take an interest in them. Also, be sure to never answer the questions as if it’s your regular spiel. Treat each job interview as if this is the first time you’re presenting your employability information.

With this, your next step is to have stories prepared for the job interview. Anecdotes and examples of previous jobs or volunteer/organization experiences can help bring life to an otherwise run-of-the-mill resume.

After this, you’ll want to make sure that you’re showing enthusiasm for the position you’re interviewing for. Don’t jump on the couch in the lobby like you’re Tom Cruise on Oprah, but definitely portray that you’re excited and up for the challenge.

Lastly, make a good impression by being impressive. Be professional and in control of your body language. Put yourself in the mindset of whatever position you’re interviewing for and show them that you have what it takes.

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Opinion Editorials

The benefits of remote work are just too good to overlook

(EDITORIAL) Employees scream it from the rooftops and businesses don’t want to admit it: Remote work is just too beneficial to pass up- and here’s why.

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Work from home written with scrabble letters.

Remote work has been rising in popularity in the past several years. Especially following the COVID-19 global pandemic, more companies saw significant benefits for both their business and their staff that went beyond the realm of finances by allowing remote labor.

Less happily, many people lost their job during the pandemic, but they ended up having more time to put toward their passions or were compelled to get creative with their remote business ideas to ensure a consistent stream of income.

If you remain on the fence about allowing your employees to work remotely, or are considering a career shift yourself, take a look at the top four benefits of working remotely, which may sway your decision.

Better Overall Quality of Life

Allowing your employees to work remotely doesn’t necessarily mean they work from home full time. There are benefits to having your employees work in an office part of the time – say, two or three days – and working from home, in more familiar surroundings, the rest of the week.

In this way, your workers enjoy some freedom and independence while retaining the ability to interact face-to-face with their peers. That provides human interaction, which can play a substantial role in terms of improved mental health for your staff.

Happy employees means healthier employees, which can save your outfit money in the form of healthcare costs and lost productivity. But we will get further into the cost-saving benefits a little further on.

If you’re a remote worker, you should see yourself becoming significantly more productive. But why would this be the case if you don’t have a manager over your shoulder watching your every move?

It’s true that when employees have a greater sense of independence, they also experience a significant sense of trust on the part of their employers and managers. This is one of the huge benefits of working remotely because it has a trickle-down effect on the quality and overall production of people’s work.

Can Work Anywhere with Internet

Whether you are a small business owner or have crafted your work to tailor toward a life of remote labor, this is an opportunity for someone who has dreamed of being a digital nomad. You have the ability to work anywhere in the world as long as you have access to the Internet. If you love to travel, this is a chance to spend time in various places around the globe while continuing to meet your deadlines.

Multi-member Zoom call on a Apple Mac laptop with a blue mug of black coffee next to it.

Set Your Own Hours

In some cases with remote businesses, you have the freedom to set your own hours. Content writers, for instance, tend to enjoy more flexibility with regard to when they work because a lot of what they produce is project-based rather than tied to a nine-to-five schedule.

When you’re a business owner, this can be incredibly useful when you outsource tasks to save money. You can find a higher quality of performance by searching for contractors anywhere in the world and it doesn’t limit you to workers who live near to your office.

Saves Everyone Time and Money

 In the end, remote work typically saves money for every person and entity involved. Businesses save costs in terms of not having to pay for a physical space, utilities, Internet, and other expenses. This allows you, as the owner, to spend more of your income on providing quality software and benefits for your employees so your operation runs more smoothly and efficiently.

According to FlexJobs, employees or remote business owners may save around $4,000 on average every year for expenses such as car maintenance, transportation, professional clothing in the office, or even money spent dining out for lunch with coworkers. Eventually, the costs add up, which means extra money in your pocket to take that much-needed vacation or save up for a down payment on your first home.

These benefits of working remotely only skim the surface. There are also sustainability factors such as removing cars from the roads and streets, because people don’t have to travel to and from an office; or employees missing fewer workdays since they have the ability and freedom to clock in from home.

Weigh the pros and cons as to whether remote work is right for you as a business owner or online professional. You might be surprised to find that working from home for more than the duration of the pandemic is worthwhile and could have long-lasting benefits.

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Opinion Editorials

Do these 3 things if you TRULY want to be an ally to women in tech

(EDITORIAL) We understand diversity helps and strengthens our companies, and individual teams. But how can you be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce?

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Two women at meeting table discussing working in tech.

More and more women are leaving their positions with tech companies, citing lack of opportunity for advancement, wage gaps, and even hostile working conditions as some of the reasons why.

What’s better for the tech industry and its employees than cultivating inclusive and diverse departments? Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce. To name a few:

1. Be open to listening to different perspectives.

It can be awkward to hear so many reports of workplace politics stacking against women, especially if you’re not a woman!

Instead of getting uncomfortable or defensive – ask open ended questions and be interested in a perspective that isn’t yours and may be unfamiliar.

Don’t seek to rationalize or explain the experiences you’re hearing about, as that can come off as condescending. It’s common for women to be interrupted or spoken over in team gatherings. If you notice this happening, bring the conversation back to where the interruption began. Offering your ear and counting yourself as responsible for making space will improve the overall quality of communication in your company.

Listening to and validating what women have to say about the quality of their employment with a company is an important step in the right direction.

Expressing something as simple as “I was interested in what you had to say – could you elaborate on your thought?” can help.

2. Develop an Employee Resource Group (ERG) program.

An ERG is a volunteer-based, employee-led group that acts as a resource for a particular group of employees. An ERG can help to foster inclusiveness through discussion, team-building activities and events. It’s common for a department to have only one or two women on the roster.

This can mean that the day to day feels disconnected from concerns commonly shared by women. disjointed it might feel to be on a high performing team, without access to relatable conversations.

3. Be responsible for your company’s culture.

Chances are, your company already has some amazing cultural values in place. That said, how often are you checking your own performance and your co-workers performances against those high standards? Strong company culture and values sound great, but whether or not they’re adhered to can make or break the mood of a work environment.

Many women say they’ve experienced extremely damaging and toxic cultural environments, which lead to hostility, frustration, and even harassment. Take action when you see the new woman uncomfortable with being hit on at team drinks.

Call out those who make unfriendly and uncouth comments about how women perform, look, or behave.

Setting a personal threshold for these kinds of microaggressions can help you lead by example, and will help build a trustworthy allyship.

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