GEEKS WELCOME

Houston books a top spot in new ranking of country’s geekiest cities

Houston's Comicpalooza is a big geek draw. Photo by Sean Bellinger

Houston geeks, unite. Bayou City has been ranked the sixth-geekiest big city in the U.S.

In honor of Embrace Your Geekness Day (July 13), Lawn Love ranked the 200 largest cities in the U.S. to determine their geekiness level. It relied on factors such as number of stores selling comics and video games, number of geek Meetup groups, and number of costume shops to develop the ranking.

Houston ranked:

  • Fifth for number of comic book stores
  • Fifth for number of “fan-cons”
  • Sixth for number of cosplay/costume stores
  • Tenth for number of geek Meetup groups

“Read your favorite comics from Third Planet before finding the perfect pieces at Four Quarters Costumes for your next cosplay,” Lawn Love recommends to Houston geeks.

One other city in Texas actually outdid Houston in terms of geekiness. San Antonio ranks fifth, one spot above Bayou City. The remainder of Texas’ mega-cities appear in the top 50: Austin at No. 9, Dallas at No. 21, and Fort Worth at No. 48.

Here’s how the rest of Texas’ big cities fared in the study:

  • Plano, No. 58
  • Irving, No. 60
  • El Paso, No. 73
  • Arlington, No. 76
  • Lubbock, No. 87
  • Killeen, No. 108
  • Corpus Christi, No. 110
  • McAllen, No. 121
  • Denton, No. 127
  • Midland, No. 148
  • Garland, No. 162
  • Frisco, No. 164
  • Mesquite, No. 169
  • Pasadena, No. 174
  • Grand Prairie, No. 177
  • Laredo, No. 181
  • Brownsville, No. 186 (tie)
  • McKinney, No. 186 (tie)

Now, you might be wondering what the difference is between a geek and a nerd. Although the terms often are used interchangeably these days, there technically is a difference, according to Rob Weiner, popular culture and humanities librarian at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

“A geek is one who is obsessed with collecting materials and following trends about their subject of interest, while a nerd is one who is educated and intellectual about a certain topic or subject area,” Weiner tells Lawn Love. “Nerds focus more on a wider breath of knowledge (and usually have a more technical or scientific knowledge base), while geeks focus on collecting and trends that go with pop culture.”

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

With the consumer price index rising 9.1 percent since last year, many Americans are evaluating new employment opportunities with better pay. However, employees would be wise to consider the risks of accepting a new position in the face of inflation and a possible recession, which could leave employers unable to sustain higher wages and generous benefits.

As a safer option in the longterm, employees may wish to ask for a raise from their current management, yet many do not know how to start the conversation. By understanding best practices for negotiations, employees can improve their chances of obtaining a pay raise without undermining relationships.

Understand the risks of job-hopping

Conventional wisdom suggests that job hopping can result in higher salary increases than an annual raise. During the pandemic, many employees took advantage of labor market shortages to secure new positions for higher pay. However, job hopping presents risks, particularly in an uncertain economic environment. Companies may institute “last in, first out” layoffs, leaving recent hires unemployed.

Even in strong economic conditions, job-hoppers face uncertain outcomes. When employees leave a company, they may leave behind teammates, mentors, client partnerships and friendships years in the making. These relationships can redevelop in a new organization, but employees may find themselves in an unfamiliar setting, facing unrealistic expectations or unexpected challenges that were not clear during the interview process.

Prepare ahead of time

Before approaching management with a request for a raise, employees should understand their own financial needs and how much additional compensation would improve their finances. If inflation has caused financial strain, employees should gather recent data on inflation, including the consumer price index, to share with management. The more information employees can offer about changing economic conditions, the more management will understand and accept their position.

Focus on the positive

Employees should begin a conversation about salary with praise for the organization and a reiteration of their commitment to the team. By beginning on a positive note, employees set the tone for a mutually productive conversation. Although employees may view salary negotiations as adversarial across the table, productive negotiations are a conversation with both employee and employer on the same team.

Likewise, while employees may worry about looking greedy, employees should not let that fear prevent them from opening the conversation. Employers also understand that employees work to meet their financial needs. While employers may face budget constraints or other considerations in salary allocation, strong management also recognizes the importance of nurturing growth among employees, both in compensation and job responsibilities.

Nonetheless, employees should focus the discussion on broader economic conditions like inflation, not on their personal budget items. By acknowledging the economic environment outside of the employer’s control, employees can then respectfully request their salary be adjusted for inflation.

Employees with a record of strong results can also gather data or performance reviews to demonstrate their contributions to the team beyond the expectations of their role. In doing so, employees can frame a salary increase as a celebratory recognition of the mutually successful partnership between employee and employer and an investment in the relationship.

Be flexible if negotiations stall

If employers decline to adjust an employee’s salary for inflation, employees should not give up on negotiating additional compensation or benefits. Rather than a pay raise, employees can ask for reimbursement for gas mileage or additional remote days to cut down on their commutes. If management declines a pay raise based on timing, employees can acknowledge that management may face budgetary constraints, remaining flexible but firm. For instance, a compromise may involve revisiting the discussion in three to six months.

As employees face record-breaking inflation, it remains critical to consider the risks of departing one role for another. By implementing best practices in salary negotiations, employees can secure a salary increase that matches inflation, avoid the uncertainty of job-hopping and invest in the future at their current company.

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Jill Chapman is a senior performance consultant with Insperity,a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions.

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