Posted by Susan on Nov 8, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments
I edit the work of many beginning writers, or people who do not consider themselves writers but must write, anyway. Possibly the most common issue I find is this: Too many words. If you’re communicating complex technical procedures, it can be a little different. But when you use so many extraneous words, rather than clarify the picture – which is what you’re trying to do – you usually end up obscuring it.
Also, it’s insulting to the reader. If you go into an office, say, and the receptionist greets you, it is not necessary to tell us exactly what she said and exactly how you responded. She greeted you. We know how that works. When you fill in all the blanks, you leave nothing for the reader to do, and they not only get insulted, they get bored. Trust your reader a little.
According to the New England Journal Of Medicine, breathing is hazardous to our health. Not the act itself, but what we breathe. Yes, it’s finally happened. Air pollution has gotten so bad that it is now “a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths.”1 In the world. Yeah.
This is according to over 1,000 research studies, coming in from five different continents. And it’s not actually news. People in parts of China have been wearing masks when they ventured outdoors for a while now. There has been evidence for years that air pollution is a serious health hazard, but it was always in regards to particular pollutants before. What the Journal has now shown is that just breathing outdoors puts you at risk for cancer.
What is an air-breathing human to do? According to the NEJM, nowhere in the world is immune.2 But, of course, some areas are more hazardous than others for humans to breathe in (no word yet on studies done with lab rats). So theoretically, you could move out to the country. That is not very practical for most businesspeople, though. Staying indoors can’t be the answer. Even if it is, I don’t know about you all, but I would go crazy if I couldn’t be outdoors. And anyway, let’s not even talk about the quality of indoor air.
However, they only got input from five continents. I’m guessing one of the continents not heard from was Antarctica, so maybe the air there isn’t so bad. Anyone for putting up condos down there?
The answer may surprise you: No. In fact, it has a higher conversion rate than digital marketing, including email. How can that be? In an age where everything is fastfastfast, where new technology comes onto the marketplace so quickly that a technology is out of date by the time you master it, when communication is instantaneous, how can “snail mail” still have a place in marketing?
Well, partly just because it is so different from what we’ve become accustomed to. Images flash on and off a screen so quickly, you have only seconds to get the customer’s attention before they’re off to the next image. Paper is different. You can feel it. You can fold it and unfold it; you can read it and reread it. An envelope with a piece of paper in it is real, it’s concrete; it’s not ephemeral, like electronic marketing.
These days, something you can hold in your hand, that sits on your desk, can carry a lot of power. It has been said that if every congressman/woman got just 100 letters from constituents, asking for action on something, that something would get done. Two hundred thousand signatures on an e-petition is out of sight/out of mind in a snap. But a letter sitting on the desk keeps staring at them.
Here are a couple of links you might want to check out, and there are plenty more. But think about it. Consider how much paper might be able to help your business.
Posted by Susan on Jul 25, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments
Are you really passionate about your business? Do you really love what you do? Would you do it even if you didn’t need the money? Does the idea of starting a new project excite you? Are you really good at what you do? A natural? Then there’s a trap that’s very easy to fall into: Relying on your natural talent.
If you think ability alone will make you successful, you haven’t been in business very long. Natural talent is the starting point. Do not confuse it with the goal. I can assure you of this just from my own experience. I’m a radio talk show host and, with all due humility, I am very good at it. People were telling me from day one that I was a natural, and I knew it, too. But please do not listen to my early shows. They are embarrassing. Seriously.
You’ve heard of those child prodigies, playing piano at two, performing at Carnegie Hall when they’re 10. I think we can all agree they have a huge amount of natural talent. Okay, but those kids practice 5–8 hours a day. The talent is natural; Carnegie Hall they earn.
What natural talent means is that you have unlimited potential. It means if you work hard, practice, study, etc., you can reach heights that others never will. But you still have to do the work. Even if you are very successful, it’s a really good idea to take classes, workshops, see what new information is out there – and there is always new information out there in this Information Age.
And brush up on the basics. I was teaching myself accounting once and there was an accountant in the building I worked at who had made himself available to me for questions. Oddly, I thought, the first question I asked him took a while to figure out. It was because it was so basic, he didn’t remember it. Ballet dancers start every day with barre work, going through the most basic exercises that every class at every level starts with. Professional singers take classes every day. Why do you think you can continue to progress and success in your field without study and practice?
Complacency is a mind-killer. It’ll kill your business, too. Stay alert. Stay fresh. Feed your natural talent, don’t rely on it.
I was driving downtown today. I hate doing that, but Google had said the place I was going was a 10 minute walk from the closest metro station – it’s not, it’s half a block – and I have a sprained toe, so…
When crossing an intersection on a green light, you’re not supposed to enter the intersection unless you know you will be able to clear it before the light changes. Nobody does that. Well, except for those people we scream at in the privacy of our cars, the ones who don’t even turn left on the yellow light when they’ve been waiting throughout the green. The rest of us, we all think, “I’ve been waiting at this light long enough! Those cars going straight have no business running the yellow or even red when they’re just going straight! I’m going, if the light does turn red and I’m blocking traffic, well, they’ve done that to me often enough, they’ll just have to deal with me ding it to them!”
That’s what I was thinking when the bus in front of me took forever to clear the intersection…on the yellow light. But it just cleared it, there wasn’t even room for the hood of my car to clear it. I almost pulled out anyway, but then I stopped. I didn’t stop because I knew how much it would annoy me if someone else did that to me, though that did figure into my choice. I didn’t do it because every 4th car in that part of town was a police car, though that did figure into my choice. I did it because I didn’t want the aggravation and stress I would experience sticking out into that intersection, knowing I’d be pissed off somebody did it to me, wondering when the cop car was going to show up… Plus, annoying though it was, I knew the light was going to change and, come what may, I’d be through that intersection within a few minutes anyway. So, I stopped, waiting for the light to change again.
The sense of peace and calm that ensued was immediate, which surprised me a little. I thought I’d be a little more impatient than that, at least for a few seconds, but I wasn’t. And then I happened to glance in my rearview mirror. The guy behind me was giving me two big thumbs-up.
Wow. It was amazing how good that felt as I waved a thank-you to him. Don’t we all really want that? When we do the “right thing” (I put that in quotes because it’s relative in so many cases), don’t we want to get an attagirl? Don’t we want someone to have noticed that we did the “right thing” for no other reason than that it was the to do? We should do that for people. We should also be paying enough attention to notice when people do things we can acknowledge them for.
But just as important is that I felt like I’d won even before that guy acknowledged me. See how much stress we put on ourselves? See how easy it can be to get rid of some of it?