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Are You Wagging Your Tail? Begin Now. Here’s How.

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Mermaid_____by_damid

Are you familiar with Chris Anderson’s theory?

If you’re unfamiliar, or need to re-up, here’s my take:

The Long Tail Theory centers around the impact of Google style indexing, searching and filtering all things on-line and humankind’s ability to find today’s hottest and urgent, as well as yesterday’s and yesteryear’s relevant and important.

Here’s a few plain-english definitions from Chris Anderson’s blog:

Best Definitions:

  • “The Long Tail is the realization that the sum of many small markets is worth as much, if not more, than a few large markets.” –Jason Foster
  • “The Long Tail is the 80% of stuff that didn’t used to be worth selling.”–Greg
  • “The Long Tail is the story of how products that were once considered fringe, underground or independent now collectively make up a market that rivals the bestsellers and blockbusters.” –Bob Baker

The question is…

Is The Long Tail Theory Relevant To Real Estate Agents?

When the book was written in 1995, “blogging” was a baby, “Twitter” was a hatchling, “Facebook” was a pimply punk kid and smart phones were dumb.  Our on-line opportunities were small and our tails, if we had one, were minnow sized too.  Today, these 4 factors make the Long Tail Theory worth revisiting.

  1. Google, Bing, Yahoo and others are indexing more information everything.   Recently social media streams, Twitter and Facebook, have been added. [For Extra Credit >  Check out this Web 2.0 Mind Map.]
  2. On-Line publishing [blogs, websites, video, audio, etc.] and conversation [social media, comments, etc.] are filling an infinity-deep, information ocean.
  3. Our on-line participation, contribution and engagement will be included, indexed and found, easily and forever.
  4. The more we share,  the more we receive, in unexpected ways [This almost sounds like an affirmation?].

People we want to do business with use Internet search to find, research, compare, evaluate, discover and select, it’s critical that we show up and shine on-line.  If we can’t be found, we’re invisible and irrelevant.  If we’re invisible and irrelevant, we’ll starve.

Why Is Our Long Tail Important?

Daily.  We focus on our To Do’s.  We prioritize, organize and scramble.  What if our daily efforts didn’t vanish at the end of the day? What if our daily efforts were indexed, catalogued and added to the searchable blue ocean of human on-line publishing and conversation?  By taking our knowledge, conversation, observation, commentary and expertise on-line, overtime, we add to the collective on-line ocean of information.

Why does this matter?  When people search for real estate expertise in your market, you’ll be found.

More.  While sharing and engagement is helping to fill a blue ocean of on-line information, we are also filling our own personal lakes. [ Curation is the next big trend and The Future of Sales Is Social]  When people find you and are comparing and evaluating who to choose, the depth and breadth of your personal information lake will help influence the wisest choice.  If you have a lake and she has a puddle, you WIN.

Are You Wagging Your Long Tail?

Let’s talk about how to grow and wag your Long Tail.

  1. On-line contribution and participation is growing your Long Tail.
  2. Engaging frequently is wagging your Long Tail.

These are the 6 most significant opportunities.

  1. Facebook: This is the MOST important conversation, connection, trust building, broadcast tool on planet earth.  There are new developments every week.  Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc., they’ve all been given permission to index public profiles, updates and more (unless you’re security settings nix it.  I wouldn’t nix it).  This is huge and oxygen like.  If you haven’t started breathing deeply, get started, pronto!  If you have, engage, engage, engage (30 minutes a day).  It’s FREE and SMART.
  2. Blog: A blog is the best way to fill your personal lake with relevant, hyper-local real estate information and showcasing your expertise .  Good news.  Getting started is easier than ever.  You have choices.  Go Posterous or WordPress.  Don’t obsess over which to choose.  Pick one and get crack’n.  Tips. More.
  3. SlideShare:  All those presentations, marketing materials, flyers, brochures, things printed, can be stored digitally and shared on-line at SlideShare.net.  Using Slideshare makes sharing your stuff easy, interactive, discoverable and shareable.  Get rid of those dented file cabinets and mountains of paper, and go Long Tail.  Here’s an example, use can do 100X better.  Your Slideshares can automatically appear on your Facebook and LinkedIn pages as well.
  4. Twitter: Tweets are now indexed by Google and Bing, plus, geotagging has just been added.  Used strategically, Twitter is now worthwhile.  Here’s a few tips from Chris Brogan.  Here’s a Simple Guide To Twitter.
  5. Video: People love to watch.  Think about the consequences and repercussions of  THIS – Google uses speech recognition for video indexing and cataloging. If you haven’t, create your own Youtube.com channel. Here’s what a bare bones channel looks like – Bare Bones Youtube Channel.  More.
  6. Smart Phone: Your smart phone now empowers your on-line sharing and conversation.  If you can think of it, there’s an app for that.  While you’re out and about, working and playing, loving, and living, send photos, post updates, share observations and broadcast announcements to Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Slideshare and your blog.  It’s easier than ever to share, contribute and engage.  Train yourself to do it daily.

Remember an Avalanche begins with a single snow flake.

Good Luck.  Wag Your Tail and swim like a Mermaid or Merman.

Thanks for reading.  Cheers.

Photo Credit

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

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32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Erin Golding

    November 30, 2009 at 8:17 am

    Seriously great stuff here Ken! Usually I just read these and lurk around. After reading Crush It by @garyvee and now your blog post I’m commenting on everything I read to leave my foot print and wag my tail. I’m hanging onto this post so I can read all the other blog links you’ve added. I’ll have to comment on those too ; ) Engage, engage!

  2. Kathleen Buckley

    November 30, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Ken-

    I really enjoy your posts because they are challenging in a way that motivates rather than intimidates. My goal this week: get all over SlideShare.

  3. Ken Brand

    November 30, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Erin G – Amen, that’s exactly correct, footprints, fingerprints, social DNA, YES, you’re living out-loud and that’s cool. Get Crack’n, go get’m. Cheers.

    Kathleen B. – Thanks for the compliment, Slideshare rocks on many levels, just like you! Cheers.

  4. Bill Risser

    November 30, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Ken – Simply put, a post I will be sharing with every agent I come in contact with! Great job of laying out a roadmap for the beginner in new media, as well as confirming the path some have already begun traveling…

    Thank you very much!

  5. Ken Brand

    November 30, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Bill – Thanks. Yes, things are changing and evolving at break neck speed, it’s a journey not a destination, so every little step matters. Cheers and thanks for reading.

  6. Benjamin Bach

    November 30, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Great article Ken, but I’d like to discuss two of your points:

    “Facebook: This is the MOST important”

    I disagree – I think facebook is a really usefull way to ping lots of people and distributre your content, but I think it’s best used when you’re using it to supplement and push people to your site. Facebook shouldn’t be your main place, because you don’t own you facebook presence. If Mark Z decides to sell the company and it changes, and it was the basis for your online presence, you need to start from scratch. Plus, the ‘cool’ sites change every few years (icq, msn messenger, myspace, linkdin, facebook, twitter, etc). If you own your own blog and use facebook to introduce people to your site, you’d still be ok. Your own blog/space is the most important fo your long tail.

    2) “Twitter is now worthwhile.”

    Twitter has been valuable, long before it was indexed for SEO. The best use for Twitter is listening and responding to your market. Use the search function to see every tweet that mentions “Austin” or “Galt Ontario” and see what people are talking about. Listen to what they say about your brand.

    This will let you meet your prospective clients. I think if you look at twitter as a tool to get indexed with, you will miss out on a lot of it’s true worth.

  7. Ken Brand

    November 30, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Sharp points Benjamin. I believe that Facebook is the most important social tool. Why, because it powers the 3 things that create Top Of Mind Awareness – It’s “Relevant” because it’s personal, it provides “Repetition” because you can interact daily and it’s “Remarkable” because it’s personal and so many aren’t. There is the danger that Mark could do something radically wrong, odds are, the tools and benefits and connections and conversations and sharing opportunities will only grow. I’m definitely down with a blog, you’re spot on there. But a blog won’t create Top Of Mind Awareness or conversation, or interaction or the ability to share yourself on a personal and professional level…doing so builds trust and familiarity…which leads to being chosen/hired or referred.

    As for Twitter, I’ve been on twitter for a couple of years and have always thought it was valuable or would become so. I believe the new indexing, geotagging, lists and who knows what’s down the road, finally make it a Must Do. As soon as people/companies/business figure out how to make geotagging totally relevant, Twitter will zoom. There’s some talk that Facebook will launch their own geotagging feature, this will, IMHO, smack Twitter and Fouresquare in the mouth and make Facebook even more omnipresent.

    Love the feedback and sharing. Thanks. Cheers.

  8. Joe Loomer

    November 30, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Gotta echo what Kathleen said – I started reading your post an hour and a half ago – then got caught up in the great content on Slideshare. Now I need two more hours in this day to read all the other links you have in here! Thank God I’ve already read most of the posts you linked to!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  9. Ken Brand

    November 30, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks Joe – Yeah, there’s a lot of material there. I’m torn, I know that short powerful posts are best, but this subject requires additional backup, how to, etc. I always appreciate your feedback. Cheers.

  10. Bob

    November 30, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Long tail is greatly over generalized in the real estate business.

    The danger here is to over-simplify this to the point where you are telling people that is all there is to it, so go out and waste your time with all this. The odds are your tweets and facebook entries are not going to out rank those who have a a designed strategy to capture targeted long tail traffic. Long tail is where the money is in search and you wont get it with a willy-nilly strategy.

  11. Doug Francis

    November 30, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Wow, I was hoping to watch Monday Night Football, but now will spend most of the evening working through all your links! There is a lot to take in here, folks.

    I often think about how many comments that I have left in the last 12 months, and not just for a “long-tail” Google strategy but because I wanted to chime in. For years my friends were shocked to see my letter-to-the-editors of Businessweek, This Old House, Newsweek, Windsurfer (in the 1980’s) and many more. It’s a habit that I picked up from my father.

    When I decided to write my own real estate newsletter back in 1994, it evolved because I knew that I was my own PR department with tons of material that comes from our day to day interactions. Now I blog and it is better, long term better.

    Okay, now time to get comfy on the couch in front of the TV with my laptop and do this homework.

  12. Ken Brand

    November 30, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    I’m with you, it appears over simplified because it’s a blog post and not a sit down consultation or a step by step How-To. I’m not advocating “wasting time”, and I agree with you whole heartedly, a “Willy Nilly” strategy won’t work with Facebook, blogging ,twitter, FSBOs, REOs, Short Sales, Expired Listings, Direct Mail, Open House, Chamber of Commerce style networking, etc. Willy Nilly is….well, it’s Willy Nilly.

    Also, I agree that if you’re embracing these Social Media tools in hopes of being discovered and having strangers call, it won’t work. I believe using the Tools I’ve shared (wisely) will generate Top Of Mind Awareness within your personal sphere – this will lead to more referrals and opportunities to be chosen. Another benefit, you grow the size of your sphere by interacting and engaging with your friends and their friends – just like IRL socializing.

    Also, I believe that buyers and sellers do on-line “Search”, “Investigate” and “Research” the agents they may be considering to represent them. If one agent has a considerable on line presence (Twitter, Facebook, SlideShare, YouTube, Blog, etc.), and one does not, opportunities are the does-not are lost, and the worst part is, they might never know why, the phone simply doesn’t ring and nobody shares their name with their friends.

    I believe that targeted efforts to generate inbound leads is the futile approach for the average agent. Even the most savvy companies have horrible conversion rates for the leads they generate. Survey and survey and personal experience show that the majority of buerys and sellers choose an agent they know or an agent who was referral recommend by a trusted friend. If anything, all the wasted time, money and energy dumped into chasing strangers would be better used cultivating relationships with people who already know and trust you.

    What I am advocating is an individual, personal approach to positioning oneself as the first or second person someone thinks about when they have a need – Social Media works well for helping this happen (Top Of Mind Awareness). This is the very reason that old school, well connected and trusted real estate agents still thrive – even if they can’t spell Facebook or Search or SEO or Google.

    I may be wrong, but I don’t doubt, eventually, these Social Media tools will be as common place and embraces as email and cell phones. Might as well start growing and wagging your tail today – that’s what I say.

    And lastly, your advice is perfect, Willy-Nilly won’t work. You need a strategy. Then again, anything worth doing is worth doing badly in the beginning. The main this is to get crack’n.

    Cheers Bob, thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  13. Ken Brand

    November 30, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Doug – What ever you do, don’t miss tonights game, it’s a brawl. I’m like you, watching and clickty-clacking my way across cyber space. Multi-tasking rule. Thanks for reading and I hope my yammering helps you grow you business. Cheers.

  14. stephanie crawford

    November 30, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Wow. There’s almost TOO MUCH information here. I’m loving the Slide Share.

  15. Ken Brand

    December 1, 2009 at 6:44 am

    Yeah Stephanie, it’s kinda dense and I sorta got carried away. The subject matter lends itself to linkage, thanks for reading and commenting. Hope I didn’t give you a headache. And, lastly, yes, Slideshare is super cool. Cheers.

  16. rosstherrien

    February 22, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Great tips, Thanks.

  17. Norman Frenk

    March 15, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    smart. sooooo smart….

  18. Maxwell McDaniel

    May 15, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Ken,
    Thanks so much for the awesome post. Just when you think you have it all figured out, something like this post comes along and makes me realize just how little I really know. Thanks. Seriously.
    I agree with your comment that Facebook is the most important piece of the social media puzzle. At least at the moment. One of the things I’m experimenting with is having my Facebook posts feed my Twitter, which is picked up on my website. It certainly helps distribute the content efficiently.
    I’m also experimenting with FB PPC advertising, both to drive people to my FB page and also my neighborhood specific listings on my website. My click through rates are about .15% which seems really low. I have about a dozen different campaigns running for different landing pages on my site. Costs are 40 cents to 90 cents per click.
    Curious if anyone else would like to share their results of any FB PPC campaigns.

  19. Ken Brand

    May 17, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Thanks Maxwell, I’m not sure we’ll ever have it figured out. It’s sorta like trying to figure out a river or what make fire, fire. You’re approach is the one I try to take, keep moving forward, keep an open mind, experiment, learn, share, grow.

    I haven’t used any of the PPC campaigns, but it’s an inexpensive way to test things. If I had any advice, I’d say, we all need to remember that people choose people they trust. in-person and on-purpose contact and conversation is the fastest and best way to build trust, discover needs and share solutions and other relevant stuff…which all leads to getting chosen (hired) or referred.

    Thanks for the comment. Cheers.

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Business Marketing

How Instagram’s latest redesign is more sinister than it seems

(MARKETING) Instagram’s latest updates have all but repurposed the app into an online mall – one that tracks everything you see, say, and buy on it.

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Woman in hijab taking photo on her smartphone for Instagram, affected by the redesign.

Instagram started the new year off with a makeover in their latest redesign. The notifications button teleported to the top of the screen in the app’s new design, and now the “Shopping” button is in its place.

It’s a subtle yet insidious switch. You’re much more likely to select the marketplace out of habit, by accident, when searching your next dose of online validation.

The app has always been a vital tool for artists, craftspeople, and small businesses to promote their work — including myself. And the new redesign is intended to boost the visibility of those groups. At least, that’s Instagram’s argument.

In an article for The Conversation, Nazanin Andalibi of the University of Michigan School of Information provides a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes.

“By choosing to make the Shop tab central to its platform,” she writes, “Instagram is sending its users a message: This platform is a business, and interactions on this platform are going to be commodified.”

As an advertiser, Instagram’s popularity has exploded in the last decade. Even big pharma is in on the surge, with seventy pharmaceutical companies purchasing ads on the app in 2020. (That made it the fastest growing pharma advertiser of the year.)

As we know, Instagram not only runs ads, but also uses user information to filter who sees what advertisements. Now, shopping is explicitly a central function of the app. It sometimes feels like a digital mall… And that’s not really what people signed up for.

I’ve had my account for since I was a teenager, and the experience I have using the app today is totally different from what it once was. For one, it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate paid ads from regular user content on Instagram.

And second, I use Instagram to promote my work, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing personal details about myself anymore.

Because, to use Anadalibi’s words: “Sharing or seeking information about a difficult, personal experience on a social media platform and then having the platform capitalize on an algorithmic understanding of the experience–which might or might not be accurate–is problematic.”

That goes doubly so for youth, who may not be fully aware of that engineering.

For instance, a teenager searching for body positive posts might receive personalized ad results for weight loss programs. A human would probably realize that’s an inappropriate, even triggering suggestion. But algorithms don’t think that way.

Alongside the redesign update, Instagram has also faces recent criticism for their Community Guidelines, which prevent suggestive and explicit images and speech.

And whether you agree with the guidelines or not, don’t be fooled. Instagram isn’t concerned with uplifting its creators, or protecting its young users. Their only goal is protecting their new bottom line, and staying as ad-friendly as possible.

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?

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Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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Business Marketing

Free shipping is everywhere… how can small businesses keep up?

[BUSINESS MARKETING] Would you rather pay less but still pay for shipping, or pay more with free shipping? They may cost the same, but one appeals more than the other.

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Person standing over pacakge, sealing with masking tape.

When it comes to competing with huge corporations like Amazon, there are plenty of hurdles that smaller businesses have to cross. Corporations can (and do) undercut the competition, not to mention garner a much larger marketing reach than most small businesses could ever dream of achieving. But this time, we want to focus on something that most people have probably chosen recently: Free shipping.

How important is free shipping to consumers? Well, in a 2018 survey, Internet Retailer discovered that over 50% of respondents said that free shipping was the most important part of online shopping. In fact, when given a choice between fast or costless shipping, a whopping 88% of those surveyed chose the latter option.

Part of this has to do with the fact that shipping costs are often perceived as additional fees, not unlike taxes or a processing fee. In fact, according to Ravi Dhar, director of Yale’s Center for Customer Insights, if it’s between a discounted item with a shipping fee or a marked up item with free shipping, individuals are more likely to choose the latter – even if both options cost exactly the same amount.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dhar refers to the economic principle of “pain of paying,” but the short answer is simply that humans are weird.

So, how do you recapture the business of an audience that’s obsessed with free shipping?

The knee jerk reaction is to simply provide better products that the competition. And sure, that works… to some extent. Unfortunately, in a world where algorithms can have a large effect on business, making quality products might not always cut it. For instance, Etsy recently implemented a change in algorithm to prioritize sellers that offer free shipping.

Another solution is to eat the costs and offer free shipping, but unless that creates a massive increase in products sold, you’re going to end up with lower profits. This might work if it’s between lower profits and none, but it’s certainly not ideal. That’s why many sellers have started to include shipping prices in the product’s overall price – instead of a $20 necklace with $5 shipping, a seller would offer a $25 necklace with free shipping.

This is a tactic that the big businesses use and it works. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

That said, not everyone can join in. Maybe, for instance, a product is too big to reasonably merge shipping and product prices. If, for whatever reason, you can’t join in, it’s also worth finding a niche audience and pushing a marketing campaign. What do you offer that might be more attractive than the alluring free shipping? Are you eco-friendly? Do you provide handmade goods? Whatever it is that makes your business special, capitalize on it.

Finally, if you’re feeling down about the free shipping predicament, remember that corporations have access to other tricks. Amazon’s “free” prime shipping comes at an annual cost. Wal-Mart can take a hit when item pricing doesn’t work out. Even if your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped, take heart: You’re facing giants.

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