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Look at magazines, from anywhere in the world. The advertisements in most consumer-based issues have few words. The more technical and educational in content, the more words on the advertisement. In both cases, less is more. The advertisement headline and picture have one purpose–draw the reader in and if done well, cause an action.

During a trip to southern California, I took some pictures from various locations as I always do. As you look at them, can they stand on their own from a messaging point of view? Do they need context such as knowing what street you can find the location to make sense out of it? Or do you have to "know" about it’s personality first before signage and pictures make sense?

Picture 01: in Laguna Beach. Thought it quite interesting to see the names on this street sign.

Picture 02: around Irvine. Noticeable. Throwback to a different era. How many years for the owners to have the name stick in the local community?

Picture 03: around Melrose and Hollywood there are all sorts of interesting signage. Irrespective of gender, I watched everyone that drove by at least glance at the billboard. The phrase says, "We focus on ONE THING. Or, depending how you look at it, two." After you notice (wink, wink) the image, you then notice the Susan G. Komen for the Cure logo. And then you say to yourself or aloud, "ahhhh, I got it." Picture grabs your attention then the text fills in the connection.

Picture 04: Hollywood. Look how they make fun of themselves with "We espeekinglish."

David J. Collis and Michael G. Rukstad begin their newly published Harvard Business Review article, "Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?" with "Can you summarize your company’s strategy in 35 words or less? If so, would your colleagues put it the same way? It is our experience that very few executives can honestly answer these simple questions in the affirmative. And the companies that those executives work for are often the most successful in their industry." (Thanks to Rodney in Virginia for sending me the article)

The article talks about the importance of having a well-articulated strategy that can be expressed in 35 words or less.

They use an interesting and highly relevant metaphor:

"Think of a major business as a mound of 10,000 iron filings, each one representing an employee. If you scoop up that many filings and drop them onto a piece of paper, they’ll be pointing in every direction. It will be a big mess: 10,000 smart people working hard and making what they think are the right decisions for the company—but with the net result of confusion. Engineers in the R&D department are creating a product with “must have” features for which (as the marketing group could have told them) customers will not pay; the sales force is selling customers on quick turnaround times and customized offerings even though the manufacturing group has just invested in equipment designed for long production runs; and so on. If you pass a magnet over those filings, what happens? They line up. Similarly, a well-understood statement of strategy aligns behavior within the business. It allows everyone in the organization to make individual choices that reinforce one another, rendering those 10,000 employees exponentially more effective."

The same is true of a small organization as a large one. The difference. Depends upon the magnitude of the decision and its effects.

The authors "identified three critical components of a good strategy statement—objective, scope, and advantage." Read the in-depth article for suggestions and examples of creating a strategy statement.

Once you have a strategy statement…what’s next you ask (smile)? A short, well-articulated, and easy-to-understand core business story. It is commonly referred to as your elevator speech, unique selling proposition, value statement, 30-second me, 60-second me, infomercial, and martini monologue. It is the answer to the ubiquitous question, "What do you do?"

The article ends with a very powerful paragraph:

"The value of rhetoric should not be underestimated. A 35-word statement can have a substantial impact on a company’s success. Words do lead to action. Spending the time to develop the few words that truly capture your strategy and that will energize and empower your people will raise the long-term financial performance of your organization."

Transport for London has a "Look out for Cyclists" safety campaign. Here is the text from the web site that explains the background.

"Imagine…A passer-by asks you for directions. As you talk to him, two workmen walk between you carrying a door. In a flash the passer-by switches places with one of the workmen, and you are left giving directions to a different person. Do you think you would notice?

Researchers at Harvard University played this trick on some unsuspecting people and over 50 per cent failed to spot the change.

This phenomenon is known as "change blindness" – only a tiny fraction of all the information going into your brain enters your consciousness. People often fail to see a change in their surroundings because their attention is elsewhere.

Even stranger, if you are concentrating on something, you can become blind to other events that you would normally notice. This "inattention blindness" is possibly the reason why motorists collide with cyclists.

Just as it is important for road users to keep an eye out for cyclists, cyclists must also take steps to ensure they are seen by motorists."

Watch the Look out for Cyclists advertising campaign…it’s about 30 seconds. See if you experience either change blindness or inattention blindness.

Advertising ("Advert") Campaigns
- Look out for cyclists (watch out for cyclists)
- Lose your license and you’re just a kid again (anti drunk driving)
- Shattered Dreams…Don’t die before you lived (pay attention–there are too many auto-pedestrian fatalities)

Wikipedia has a brief overview of change blindness as well as links to several prominent research papers.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mr. Right But

Here’s one for the record books. During a client meeting with ABC Organization, someone said the dreaded b-word, "but." A few colleagues made light fun of him…no big deal. (see blog entry Leave Your But’s Behind.)

Then, someone said, do you remember Jack (name changed)? Seeing the look of confusion on my face, it was explained that Jack started virtually every sentence with "right, but." Let me repeat, "right, but" was uttered before anything else!

Over time, Jack got the behind-your-back name of Mr. Right But.

I know that but is a difficult word to remove from our vocabularies. I had never met anyone so prolific in the use of what I term, the absolute worst word in the English language, for human interaction.

But is such an easy word to identify, both by tone of voice and actual usage. Similar words include on the other hand, however, and although.

Watch how your relationships improve, both personally and professionally, by replacing "but" or its equivalent with a "." (period) or "and."

Article Summary:  In today's business world, communication moves at race-car speed. You often have less than a minute to tell your story. That's why you need to make your business story succinct and compelling, one that will leave people asking for more. Here are three key steps to developing an elevator speech that screams, "I need that."  

If you have any preferences or requests for topics, contact us by telephone, email, or leave a comment on this blog entry.

To read other articles in The Chief Storyteller Blog, select the category, Articles

Say What You Want, Say it in Under 30 Seconds
© 2008. Washington Business Journal. Used by permission.

Ira J. Koretsky
February 22, 2008

In today's business world, communication moves at race-car speed. You often have less than a minute to tell your story. That's why you need to make your business story succinct and compelling, one that will leave people asking for more.

Imagine yourself at a business function. You are introduced to someone who asks, "What do you do?"

The answer to that ubiquitous question has many names. We'll go with this one: your elevator speech. It should tell your core business message or story in 30 seconds or less, about the duration of a typical elevator ride.

I created a proven three-step process to help you practice and perfect your core business story, one that will generate the recruiting, sales and marketing results you want.

Step 1: Craft a Compelling Headline
To construct your elevator speech, start by identifying your objectives.

Are you trying to sell a product? Position yourself for a new job? Make a networking connection? Find volunteers or corporate sponsors? Get an idea approved?

Determining your objectives helps you direct the tone, language and delivery of your elevator speech.

Focus on who you are and what you are trying to do. Pare that information down to its bare bones. A reporter tells a story by showing who, what, where, when and why. Think of telling your story in a similar way.

Let's use a corporate example: (a) Who: We are XYZ Company; (b) What: We eliminate financial emergencies; (c) How: Through a variety of products and services, including financial planning, wealth protection, and wealth building; (d) Why: Clients have praised us as great listeners who have delivered on our promises, "predicted" the future with confidence and helped them achieve their financial objectives; (e) What makes us different: 28 years in business, 95 percent client retention, beat the Dow the last eight years; (f) Problems/issues we solve: wealth protection, wealth building and wealth sharing for the family and philanthropy.

Now think about the people you want to reach with your message. Knowing your audience is critical to effective communication.

Develop a profile for your ideal [blank]. The [blank] is your target audience, client, partner, board of directors, subscriber, member, etc. Who would be best served by your services and products?

Tailor your talk to the audience in your ideal [blank] profile. The elevator speech to a principal at a nonprofit organization will be different from the speech to a principal at a publicly traded company. The speech to the head of a government contractor won't be the same as the one to the CEO of a startup. Narrow it down, customize and fine-tune it.

Now craft a compelling headline. Headlines grab your attention. They arouse your curiosity with the juiciest parts of the story.

Visual headlines are the best. A wonderful example is General Electric's classic, "We bring good things to light." Illuminating a home appeals to people in a way that "we make light bulbs" cannot.

Here are a few of my favorite headlines I developed for my clients: "We are champions of healthy living" for the American Diabetes Association; "We create workplace happiness" for Transwestern Commercial Services; and "We are like a hotel for business" for Preferred Offices.

Keep it short, between three and seven words. Use active verbs. Use these two formats as a guide: "We are like [noun] for [noun]" and "We help [verb] your [blank]."

Work with your team to develop new ideas, to identify key words and to practice. You are developing one headline that will be shared across all your recruiting, sales, marketing and communications materials.

Step 2: Add the 'How' Details
Your core business message should provide details that explain your headline in one to three sentences.

These sentences describe what you do while sharing some of the benefits of working with you. Keep it simple. Avoid jargon and industry-specific language.

Here is an example from Transwestern: "For the CEO, happiness is office space that supports the corporate vision. For the CFO, happiness is a lease with lower rents, better space, and a sound exit strategy. For employees, happiness is an easy commute to a great location with an upbeat interior."

Step 3: Share a Tailored Success Story
Now that you have a compelling headline with intriguing details, add a success story tailored to your target audience. This will heighten their interest and increase your emotional connection. Limit your success story to two sentences.

An example of a success story: "Since 1940, the American Diabetes Association has been improving the lives of all people affected by diabetes with the help of great organizations like Kraft Foods, Gold's Gym, and General Mills." Balance bragging with humility.

Finally, evaluate the success of your business story. Your elevator speech must resonate on a personal and emotional level. You can read someone's body language and verbal response to get a quick answer to your speech's effectiveness.

Receptive body language includes the other person smiling broadly and affirmative head nodding.

Also look for verbal cues. Does your conversation partner ask intelligent and active questions, share a related personal story, offer a business card, ask to set up a meeting, or refer you to a friend? If so, then your elevator speech is working.

Tweak it over time to ensure that it generates the right results for you.


Ira Koretsky is the president of The Chief Storyteller®, a boutique marketing and sales consulting firm. He has delighted audiences around the world helping them achieve better business outcomes and accelerate their revenue with highly effective written, spoken, and social media communications. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after global speaker, columnist, consultant, and executive coach. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn®, and YouTube.


"Reason number one is that it delivers anticipated relevant and personal messages to the people who want to get them, when they want to get them." This is what Seth Godin shared with employees at Google in early 2006 in his presentation, "All Marketers are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low Trust World." [click here to watch the 30 minute video with about 20 minutes of questions and answers on Google Video]

I am not a fan of the title of his book. I believe that if you look at the title without any external context or without knowing Godin’s style, it is disingenuous. Good marketers, great marketers are trying to get at the heart of the appeal, to get at the emotional side of why someone should buy a product or service.

We love to buy, we dislike being sold to. We buy based on emotion and justify the purchase based on logic. Marketers know this and SO DO WE.  The second part of the book title is solid. Godin’s premise on telling stories is from my selfish perspective (smile) is great. When you have a remarkable product or service (this is his concept from Purple Cow), people will talk about it, they will tell their friends and colleagues, and then the story will spiral from there creating success. This is exactly what we say at The Chief Storyteller, Great Stories Travel(TM).

And the funny aspect of Godin’s book title, is that I will bet you bazillions of Monopoly(R) dollars that a marketing person wrote the headline title of his book! All Marketers are Liars is compelling, different, engaging, and talks directly to a stereotype. From a headline writer’s perspective, I give the title of the book an "A." And from the content perspective, Godin is spot on. You can read more Seth Godin on his blog or visit your library to read one of his many books.

Below are some transcribed key thoughts and phrases from his presentation, as they relate to telling sustainable business stories that capture the hearts and minds of people everywhere.

"It’s about me, it’s about what I am interested in right now, and it’s delivered in a format that I want to get it in. And as you try to exploit other ways to deliver revenue, what’s at the heart of that, is are you delivering it, at the right place at the right time in a way that people want to get it. It’s what I call permission marketing."

"It’s the privilege of marketing to people who want to be marketed to, of selling to people who want to be sold to…and that is at the core of what’s driven the revenue of this company."

- "What we want is the story we tell ourselves"
- "We’re buying the story, the way it makes us feel"
- "Google makes people feel a certain way when they do it [Google search]"
- "The story that the stock market tells itself, the story users tell themselves, the story, the belief we’ve got when we use it [Google] is priceless"
- "And the challenge you’ve got since every person in this company is a marketer, some of them are marketers who code, is to deliver on that story."
- "And the challenge is, if you are going to bother to do something, is it worth talking about?"
- "You keep making stuff that’s worth talking about"
- "They buy it to tell a story, to talk to their friends, to tell themselves a story, to have a message"
- "If it’s just good enough, I’m going to notice, and won’t tell anybody"

About two weeks ago I posted an entry, "I am Honored to be a Washington Business Journal Guest Columnist for 2008."

Today, my first article as a guest columnist appeared titled, "Everyone has a Story to Tell, and You Need One Too." (article reprinted below)

The initial announcement in the January 11th issue summarized the series nicely: "The Business Smarts Section strives to offer readers top-shelf analysis and advice on entrepreneurship and workplace matters. We cannot do it alone. So for 2008 we are introducing a brand-new slated of Business Smarts columnists, all local experts…Taken together, these 12 columnists are akin to a pro-bono board of advisers for readers."

During the course of 2008, the journal will be publishing about a dozen of my articles related to business storytelling. I am honored and delighted to be one of the journalists. Thanks Tim!

If you have any preferences or requests for topics, contact us by telephone, email, or leave a comment on this blog entry.

To read other articles in The Chief Storyteller Blog, select the category, Articles.

Everyone has a Story to Tell, and You Need One Too
© 2008. Washington Business Journal. Used by permission.
Ira J. Koretsky
January 18, 2008

So, what's your story? Four words that are simple to say and complex to answer. And the answer could change your life.

Even before humans had words, they had stories. Cave paintings gave way to more sophisticated forms of expression — plays, folk tales, poems, speeches and novels. We still appreciate some of the great stories created generations ago.

OK, so an explanation about your business or your great idea might not be studied in English literature classes 500 years from now. But today your story could be the talk of the town, get you the sale, get you the perfect job or cement an important relationship.

Stories bind relationships. Think about Monday morning at the office. What do you talk about? What you did over the weekend, of course. When you answer, that is a story. Helping someone fix his flat tire on the Beltway is a story. Regaling colleagues about your vacation is a story. Talking about your favorite scene in a movie is a story. It is not necessarily what the story is about; the value is the interaction, and ultimately, how it is received.

Simply put, great stories travel. In business, people can leverage the power of stories every day. Great business stories have the same characteristics and potential as personal stories. They transform facts into ideas and ideas into action, which can generate the recruiting, sales and marketing results that you are seeking.

Each of us is a business storyteller. Even if you are not a natural storyteller, you can learn to combine your passion and your business message into a story that is entertaining, memorable and compelling.

Your organization's business story is power. Are you leveraging this power across all your communications materials?

You only have one chance to make a first and lasting impression. The $64,000 question is: Are your story tools getting prospects to say, "I need that!"

Over the course of my career, I have noticed one ubiquitous trait of people who are good at communicating details and facts. You need to both think and act like a storyteller – a business storyteller.

Telling your story in the right way can get you sustainable competitive advantage (SCA) in your marketplace. If you get the message across that you are the best, for instance, at managing government contracts or procuring research grants for arthritis research, then the story will endure and spread.

Appealing to your audience's emotions can go a long way in overcoming their perceived switching costs. Even if your product is superior, there will always be those who are cynical about moving from the status quo.

When organizing your story, do not just think about what you can do for their company's bottom line. Explain how it will make them feel, what they will be able to do, and what others will think.

If you are making a presentation, you can help your audience and yourself by offering an active message in which you interpret the data, form a position and make recommendations. This way, your story will educate, entertain and inspire.

The route to effective storytelling starts well before the presentation. Determine your goals by incorporating "it's all about them" analysis.

Knowing your audience means doing the research. Find out if there are any cultural barriers or taboo topics to avoid.

Another key to a powerful story is to have an attention-getting headline. Think about the nightly TV news or the morning paper. The news uses powerful visual and verbal images to draw you in so right away you know what the upcoming story is about — they whet your mental appetite and get you excited about the next story.

Your core message should take less than 30 seconds to say. Think of it as your advertisement. Consumer companies have learned through billions of dollars of advertising how to open our hearts, which in turn means opening our wallets.

You never know when you might be sitting across from the CEO of a company that would be key to meeting your sales goals or the hiring manager of the business where you dream of working. If you have 30 seconds, a firm handshake and a compelling story, your life can change. Great relationships begin with great stories. Opportunities abound to meet people. With a compelling story, they will want to call you back, set up a social meeting or set up a business appointment. This is how 30 seconds can turn into meaningful opportunities.

Over the coming months, I will be sharing with you articles that blend storytelling and observations about human behavior with proven sales and marketing techniques — techniques that help you become a more compelling business storyteller — techniques that help you build stronger and more profitable relationships.

The bottom line is the opportunity to tell your business story is a happening all around you. Are you maximizing the time you have?


Ira Koretsky is the president of The Chief Storyteller®, a boutique marketing and sales consulting firm. He has delighted audiences around the world helping them achieve better business outcomes and accelerate their revenue with highly effective written, spoken, and social media communications. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after global speaker, columnist, consultant, and executive coach. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn®, and YouTube.


What would you do if you were known by SUX? Change it? Embrace it? Hide from it?

Well, the good folks from Sioux City, Iowa tried twice (1988 and 2002) to change the airport three digit code from SUX to something different, something more friendly and inviting. None of the suggestions from the Federal Aviation Administration were acceptable to the officials at Sioux Gateway Airport and the city.

So what did they do? They embraced SUX. The website is They have t-shirts and hats proudly displaying SUX in big and bold letters. SUX is the center of the marketing campaign!

What a great example of creativity, innovative thinking, and truly making the best out of what seems to be an undesirable situation.

Airport website
Official souvenir website
Airline t-shirt souvenir website

A recent Associated Press article sent to me prompted this blog entry.

Here is a new one to add to the "congratulations, I have tons of money to give you, no obligation" scams. I literally just received the email a few minutes ago. It was so fresh in its approach, I was excited to read it from top to bottom

I looked for how they positioned the message, embedded the call-to-action, teased my curiosity, and of course, the word prose itself.

My grade: 
- 3 out of 4 stars for creativity
- They used Microsoft as the source–something new and fresh
- The language seemed technical enough, which improved the believability factor
- Address on the bottom is Microsoft’s
- Call-to-action was specific and did not require too much personal information. Just enough to show that you are interested…this is the hook!
- Prose was sound, with no obvious "I-am-from-a-foreign-country" bad grammar and spelling mistakes

Could be Improved:
- Microsoft would never use Bonanza. They always create clever and well-thought out campaigns
- Magnitude of the prize. 500,000 pounds sterling–never in a million years. 
- There are many more suggestions that could be shared and will not be for obvious reasons

*** Way to go spammers! Please continue to be more creative and clever so as to dupe more unsuspecting people into sharing their financial information.

Here is the highly offending email…

We are pleased to inform you of the results of the just concluded Microsoft® quarterly Promotions which drew your email address as one of the lucky winners of this quarter’s Platinum Vacation Trip Card.

Being one of the lucky winners of the Microsoft® Bonanza, you are therefore a recipient of the Platinum Vacation Trip Card which affords you the opportunity to tour round five major cities in Europe, America and Asia as a special vacation plan, arranged by Microsoft® Inc., your accommodation and feeding cost are all inclusive in your winning Platinum Vacation Trip Card.

The Vacation Platinum Card has an instant cash value of £525,000.00 GBP (Five Hundred and Twenty Five Thousand Pounds Sterling), which is redeemable in cash.

Winners can either redeem the Platinum Vacation Trip Card, to engage in the Microsoft® Inc. Round the world vacation trip, or its equivalent Cash amount of £525,000.00GBP.

All Email Addresses where collated from our world wide data base and other database like, yahoo etc, and electronically extrapolated, and after a random computerized ballot selection by our secure MICROSOFT® ORACLE DATA BASE raffle system, five MSN® Hotmail® email addresses emerged as the 2nd category lucky winners of this quarter MSN® Hotmail® Promo and 2 lucky winners from non MSN® Hotmail® email addresses in which your email address was randomly selected as one of the lucky winners.

To redeem your claims please contact any of the following Microsoft® Claims Redemption officer.

Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way , Redmond , WA 98052-6399 .
Email: [omitted by us]
Personal Email: [omitted by us]

When you contact him/her, please provide him/her with your secret pin code
x7pwyz2007 & Ref: No: MSN/17336ITTL/GRCC/07. You are also advised to provide him/her with the under-listed information as soon as possible:

1. Name in full:
2. Address:
3. Nationality:
4. Age:
5. Occupation:
6. Phone/Fax:

Please endeavour to quote your Secret Pin Code & Reference number in all correspondence with the claims redemption officer and you are also strictly advised to keep your winning particulars from the public, until you have redeemed your claims.

Note: Do not write to this email account respond to the above mentioned officer.

On behalf of members and staff of Microsoft® Round Trip Promo.

Please accept my hearty congratulations.

Best Regards,

Ronda Shultz
Microsoft® Inc. Promo
© 2007 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Cardboard Cops Slow Speedsters

Deena from Tennessee shared with me an article describing an interesting and clever approach to safety.

The Tennessean Newspaper tells the story of Sgt. Andy Miller, head of traffic enforcement, for the Smyrna Police department and his novel approach to reduce speeding in a pedestrian-heavy area.

The article states, "the city commissioned a life-size, corrugated plastic cutout of Miller, posing with his radar gun, a menacing scowl on his face. They post the cutout in high-traffic areas, hoping that it will deter speeders."

"The cutout was actually the brainchild of Jim Gammon," the reporter writes. Gammon is "the owner of a sign company on Front Street. Gammon approached the city to suggest it and donated the sign. It’s working so well that the city is having another cutout made this week."

The article shares a lot more including a few stories from motorists.

How is your creativity? How is your team solving its most challenging issues? Do you have the right mix of people in the room that can offer different perspectives while brainstorming?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Having a Rollercoaster Kind of Day?

United Parcel Service, commonly known as UPS, produced an eye-catching, headline-grabbing advertisement in the July 2007 issue of Entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners are accustomed to the roller coaster days of business. In fact, working with and speaking to groups of entrepreneurs, I would emphatically say that every day for them is a roller coaster day! Of course, some days come with the small twists and turns and other days come with three or four upside down loops and turns that smoosh your face (big smile).

UPS let the powerful roller coaster image draw the eye in, then the word TODAY draws you into the headline of "Looks like it’s going to be one of those days? We can help with that." I would suggest to UPS that there should be some kind of call-to-action. Ask the reader to do something and act after grabbing his or her attention.

Compelling and engaging visual imagery is much more powerful than words by themselves. When you are creating your website, advertisements, presentations, and marketing materials, examine critically where you can replace text with an image. The image should instantaneously convey a story while complementing, reinforcing, and perhaps extending your message.

While doing some research, I began to read some of the fascinating articles on Premiere Magazine. One article that I knew would be a great read was, "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time."

While I was reading the list, it made me think of all the people that I meet. While meeting them, I can remember likely 5% and that is probably better than most. Soooo, is your story memorable, both from the mind and the heart? You do not need a pool of professional screen writers to make your story standout. Mix in a pinch of passion, inspiration, what’s in it for them, facts, persuasiveness, intelligence, creativity, credibility, balance, and communication. And like any great Hollywood movie, you will have to rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite some more.

Have some fun recalling some great memories. Starting with 100, Roger "Verbal" Kint of The Usual Suspects, there is someone for everyone. Here are a few of my favorites:

- 89. Sandy Olsson of Grease
- 84. Darth Vader of Star Wars
- 70. Judy Benjamin of Private Benjamin
- 64. Rocky Balboa of Rocky
- 62. John Shaft of Shaft
- 44. Jules Winnfield of Pulp Fiction
- 38. Willy Wonka of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
- 35. Dr. Evil of Austin Powers
- 30. King Kong of King Kong
- 26. E.T. of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
- 17. Dorothy Gale of The Wizard of Oz
- 16. Robin Hood of The Adventures of Robin Hood
- 12. Charles Foster Kane of Citizen Kane
- 8. Ellen Ripley of Alien
- 7. Indiana Jones of Raiders of the Lost Ark
- 5. James Bond of Dr. No

From my list of the top 100, I would readily add these and likely a lot more. In no particular order:
- Godzilla from any of the Godzilla movies
- James Bond of any James Bond movie
- Captain Nemo of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
- Jerry Mitchell of Three O’Clock High (this is a childhood favorite)
- Simba of The Lion King
- Bruce Lee of Enter the Dragon
- Eliza Doolittle and Professor Henry Higgins of My Fair Lady
- Caractacus Potts of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
- Dr. John Dolittle of Dr. Dolittle
- Long John Silver of Treasure Island
- Morpheus of the Matrix

If you want to find out more information on any movie, my favorite website is the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Its tag line is "Earth’s Biggest Movie Database."

Friday, August 03, 2007

We Create Futures

The ad from a recent Premier Magazine below caught my eye. Why? Because of the headline, "We create futures." I can frankly say that the people images confused me until I read the advertisement copy and the line below the picture, "north carolina school of the arts." Only then did it all make sense.

The sub message, "Talent training talent" is also brilliant. Taken all together, a compelling ad. Linearly, from initial eye scan to reading the headline, to scanning the text (e.g., animation through screenwriting), to reading the copy, to looking at the text on the bottom could have been less challenging.

Couple of thoughts:
1) Synch your visual to your message. Will the reader readily and easily understand the connection?
2) Ensure that the color choice is readable (white on a mixed background along with grey text on a white background is a bit difficult to read)
3) Synch the copy to the headline and key messages. Ensure that there is a clear connection from headline through the copy to the call to action
4) And speaking of call to action, ensure that your ad has one.
5) If possible, allow your organizational personality to show through. Allow it to permeate the visuals and the copy.
6) Test, test, test. Consumer Packaged Goods companies spend billions of dollars whetting our appetites and getting us to open our wallets. They spend millions testing and retesting ad copy, word choice, image selection, etc.

In 2006, I was introduced to a fantastic group of passionate, smart, and forward-thinking organizations. These organizations have been embracing the "globalization" of our world for years. I know how important culture, traditions, language, etc. are to people. The Association of Language Companies (ALC) opened my eyes even more to the importance and why organizations should use highly professional interpretation, translation, and localization services.

I presented at the ALC 2006 Annual Conference (see blog entry) and the recent 2007 Annual Conference (see blog entry). I can’t say enough about how enjoyable both conferences have been from making new friends, making new partnerships, and exchanging business, within the United States and Internationally.

During one of the conference breaks on the patio at the 2007 conference, I met Tova Ichai of MilaTova International Translations. Tova is the Treasurer of The European Language Industry Association (ELIA). What started as a casual hello ended up being 30 minutes of great conversation. And Tova kindly offered to introduce me to the program chairs of ELIA to be a potential speaker for the 2008 conferences.

You have no way to know where, when, or who will randomly cross your path to help create exciting new paths. Over time I have come to know more and more about ELIA. It is a relatively new association with professional development, sales and marketing, and industry experts sharing knowledge, tips, and best practices. ELIA is building a community across Europe and the world.

If you are seeking to build new relationships inside Europe, ELIA is an organization to visit! They have an upcoming event in September in Rome and February 2008 in Paris.

* More native speakers of languages other than English currently access the Internet than do native speakers of English.

* The U.S. currently accounts for less than half of total e-commerce spending and according to IDC this share is expected to drop to 36 percent by 2005.

These statements show why perhaps Internet News said it best when they wrote, "for US companies, multilingual e-commerce and business sites are no longer optional".

Still not convinced? Read on to find out why the Internet is already serving as an international business medium for many companies and why you may not want to be left behind.

To consider whether or not to take advantage of the Internet as an international business tool you first need to consider the possibilities it may hold. Consider these questions:

- Who is on the net?
- Where do they live?
- What languages do they speak?
- What regions represent the best opportunities for
your organization?

Although the numbers given in answer to these questions often raise questions of collection and tracking methods, research shows that all of the various statistics and information point towards the same trends. It is these trends that will be highlighted here.

Here are some very, very interesting statistics and trends associated with the approximate 480 million people online throughout the world:

- About 35% of them are located in the U.S.
- About 27% are located in Europe
- About 24% are located in Asia
- About 264 million (~55%) are native speakers of a language other than English
- About 144 million (~30%) are native speakers of a
European language (mainly French, Italian, German and Spanish)
- About 100 million (~25%) are native speakers of an Asian language (mainly Chinese, Japanese and Korean)

If your site is still English-only and is only geared towards U.S. visitors, you are not alone. Yo  are actually in the company of 75% of businesses.

As a U.S. company you need to remember that because of the Internet, you could have a competitor you don’t even know about, located in Europe or Asia, reaching out to your customer base via the Internet.

And that’s not all. Not only might you be losing some business by not reaching out to foreign markets now, you may even be risking some potential future business as well. Remember that if you have a presence on the World Wide Web, you have already, by definition, "gone global". Don’t be surprised if there are some who reach your site and are offended at not having their linguistic and cultural preferences addressed.

If all of the above information isn’t enough to convince you that the market demand exists for you to globalize your website, then consider the natural advantages the Internet offers as an international business tool:

- You automatically have a potential client base of 480 million people worldwide, mainly consisting of well-educated 25-50-year-olds.

- By virtue of being on the web, your company is already accessible 24 hours a day regardless of time differences.

– Research shows that even Internet users who have never made an online purchase often use the web to research products and services.

– The advent of the Euro can make it much easier to break into the European market.

It actually may not be as expensive or as complicated as you may think to create a multicultural website offering. And most importantly, if U.S. companies wish to avert the potential of European and Asian dominance of Internet business, they best consider addressing the world on its terms – with multilingual, multicultural website offerings.

To both localize and globalize your website, it is highly suggested to seek the services of certified and professional translation and interpretation firms. It is a common practice of these high-end firms to have two and sometimes three rounds of quality assurance checks to verify meaning, idioms, phrases, intent, word choice, etc. Two great sources are The Association of Language Companies (ALC) and The European Language Industry
Association (ELIA)

As I’m a voracious reader for personal and business pleasure, I come across many good books. "Can you recommend a book for ______?" is a frequent question.

Of late, the book request I’m most often asked about is one for small business owners who need to generate revenue, persons new to sales, and association professionals new to the development world.

I readily respond with one of my favorites, "The Accidental Salesperson" by Chris Lytle. One of the more insightful phrases in the books comes from the introduction: "Every prospect you meet is silently saying, ‘Show me that you’re different.’" He has an approach based on a system and he shares insights, worksheets, and tools to help you develop your own system.

Lytle has a nice way of sharing information, he tells great stories that are relevant and high in business value, and provides practical tools to help you succeed.

Some of you may be saying, "I’m not a fan of high structure and systems." I’m with you. To be top in your field, you will need some structure.  How else are you going to measure success? How else are you going to identify areas for improvement? With the right system, you’ll know where your story and message are resonating and where you need to revise.

Lytle has his own website with free audio and print resources.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Potter-mania Spans the Globe

Associated Press Writer Jill Lawless recently published a richly detailed article on J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter Series.

"It has been an extraordinary journey. When Rowling created Harry Potter, she was a struggling single mother, writing in cafes to save on the heating bill at home. Now, at 41, she is the richest woman in Britain — worth $1 billion, according to Forbes magazine — with houses in Edinburgh, London and the Scottish countryside."

I did a few searches on the Internet with staggering results: 
- "Harry Potter" yields over 165,000,000 results 
- "Harry Potter Books" yields over 65,000,000 results
- "J.K. Rowling" yields about 6,000,000 results with her personal site appearing first
- "Harry Potter Movie" yields over 55,000,000 results with the official movie site here

Lawless writes, "The novels have produced five movies, mountains of toys, a riot of Internet fan sites and scores of companion books — from academic studies to parodies to pop psychology. A theme park, complete with Hogwarts castle and Forbidden Forest, is to open in Orlando, Fla., in 2009."

In a second article published on Friday July 20, Lawless writes from London, "At midnight, like magic, Harry Potter appeared. Bookstores across Britain, and as far away as Singapore and Sydney, threw open their doors to sell "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the seventh and final volume of the young wizard’s adventures."

"Potter-mania spans the globe." Reuters published an article just past midnight talking about the fans and the books. As did the Associated Press and the New York Times.

It is truly amazing what imagination can do. Rowling has for some, reintroduced books. For others, the Harry Potter series has provided the reason to read. And for others still, the series has inspired with heroes and heroines abounding. Each audience has found a story within the Harry Potter books. A personal story that has touched both heart and mind.

Rowling responds to a query about what she will do after Harry Potter by saying, "I just really want to fall in love with an idea again, and go with that."

I know only a handful of people that have embraced their passions. When they do, it is infectious. Other people want to be involved.

Some questions to ponder…
- Are your goals and passions aligned? 
- Are your goals keeping you up at night because you are so excited to be thinking about them? 
- Do you have friends, colleagues, clients, and members on board your passion train?

If you are a leader in the Language Services Industry, you should have been at the fifth annual conference of The Association of Language Companies. If you are not a leader and want to become one, the same suggestion, join ALC.

It was my pleasure and joy to be invited back as a speaker following last year’s great conference. I presented "How to Tell Your Story in 30 Seconds or Less: 7 Steps to a Perfect
Answer to What Do You Do (‘Elevator Speech’)?" To read the blog entry about last year’s conference, click here. On a personal note, as a speaker, I am sensitive to the logistics and operations of an event. Audience members want to be entertained, educated, and inspired. Most importantly, they want a smooth running event. I want to give "props" and kudos to Bob McLean, Executive Director, and his team for an wonderful experience in 2007.

Here are a some of the session titles among many others:
- Special Session for First-Timers
- The Art of Negotiation in Business an in Life
- Public Relations and Your Bottom Line: A Review of the ATA PR Initiative
- Branding Your Company

Craig Buckstein from Geneva Worldwide and I helped with the "social lubrication" during the Welcome Dinner. We facilitated a fun and rewarding hour of speed networking and tips for building stronger and profitable business relationships.

If you are a translation or interpretation organization or provider of services to this fast-growing industry, be sure to join us in 2008 in San Francisco for the 6th annual ALC Conference May 13-17.

If you are unable to attend the ALC conference in the United States, be sure to visit ELIA and ATA (see below).

The European Language Industry Association (ELIA) has exciting events throughout the year. The next big event is in September in Rome and then February 2008 in Paris. ELIA has a links page to more than 50 organizations throughout the world.

The American Translators Association (ATA) is another great organization. The ATA’s annual conference is October 31 through November 3 in San Francisco.

Whatever your choice, make it! The world is shrinking! Countries that seemed foreign just a few years ago are some of our best sources of new clients, members, partners, and referrals.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Flex Your Funny Bone

“Looking for something to smile about at work? How about this: Flexing your funny bone can significantly enhance your professional prospects.”

Robert Half International through just released an interesting article (thanks to Rhonda for submitting) on sense of humor in the workplace.

“Displaying levity on the job can help you build rapport with those around you, facilitate open communication, and contribute to a positive work environment. And, perhaps most importantly, a comic touch can work to relieve tension on even the most stressful days.”

The authors provided several tips to ensure that your humor, high jinks, and practical jokes are “work appropriate and never mean spirited or at the expense of others.”

Here are a few. Check out the article to find more tips and read about the ideas in more detail.

1) Be the butt of your own joke
2) Laugh with others
3) Create a “funny file”

How many people do you know that speak Igbo, one of the the languages of Nigeria?

The Washington, DC area is filled with many cultural wonders in the form of media, art, entertainment, song, dance, embassies, and my favorite, people. When I have an occasion to visit an embassy, it is like a mini vacation in that country.

Let's step back to yesterday and then I'll bring the story back to Igbo. Yesterday morning I presented a workshop, "Get Funded: Design And Deliver The Perfect Investor Pitch," as part of my sponsorship with TiE-DC’s Venture Capital Entrepreneur Challenge. The workshop was an intensive, hands-on couple of hours working with the selected Entrepreneurs on their upcoming presentation pitches. The entrepreneurs have five minutes to present their ideas to venture capital experts and judges that will offer constructive feedback on the business plan, financial modeling, and market viability. I help them package their passion into a compelling and engaging business story. TiE is "Washington, DC's largest organization of entrepreneurs. They help anyone and everyone looking to meet new people, exchange ideas, and connect the right people together to bring the ideas to business life.

A gentleman was sitting beside me. I looked at his name tent and saw Chinedu. This is a name I have not seen or heard before. So I asked him the origin of his name. Nigeria. And then it hit me! I should start a list for every language for networking and business storytelling. Chinedu smiled and promised to get me the info.

Chinedo owns Mwendo, a new kind of search tool that helps realtors, buyers, owners, and renters. From his website, "In Swahili, 'mwendo' means to journey or to voyage. So as you begin your mwendo for the perfect living arrangement, consider us as the primary guide in your search." You can find Mwendo here.

Next morning, I found a nice surprise in my inbox. Find links to the other languages at the end of this article along with several links to Nigerian-related tourism and business websites.

Here are the six phrases requested:
- "Networking" as in business networking – Nzuko (literally: meeting)
- "Business storyteller" – Akuko Onyeahia (literally: market storyteller)
- "Business Presentation" – Akuko Oru (Owerri dialect)
- "Business Presentation" – Akuko Olu (Onitsha dialect)
- "Hello" – Kedu
- "Thank you" – Ndewo
- "Good bye" – Kemesia

A request for you…contact me with the same or equivalent phrases and complementary phrases (e.g., relationship building, client relationship, and customer care) in other languages. As a thank you, I'll give you one of our business storytelling tip guides, list you as
the source in my future book of languages across the world, and give you a free copy of the book.

Business Storytelling Phrases in the Following Languages
- Igbo from Nigeria
- Romanian from Romania
- Amharic from Ethiopia
- Turkish from Turkey

- Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
- Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC)
- Tourism is Life – Official Nigerian Tourism Website

So I’m having lunch before I give my "Perfect Elevator Speech" presentation to the Harvard Business School Alumni of the Washington, DC area.

A very bright woman (Let’s call her Carol) says to me, "mind if I try out my elevator speech on you?" With a big smile, I say "sure."

Carol proceeds to say something to the effect, "I create computer software programs that use, update, and link complicated high order algorithms and learning pathways to improve the efficiency, throughput, and effectiveness of a company’s security systems."

Her face then explodes into a Cheshire Cat ear-to-ear smile and says, "you didn’t understand that, right?" I nod affirmatively. Without missing a beat, Carol says, "good, I know that you are not a potential client."

I paused and responded, "you are absolutely right. And with that elevator speech, you have eliminated the other 50 plus people in the room as well. AND, you have stopped the other 50 people from helping to tell your story to others."

Her jaw metaphorically dropped to the ground. Carol had not thought about the potential impact or lack thereof of telling a simple, compelling, and memorable story ("elevator speech.")

Complicated stories accelerate the ending of a conversation. Complicated stories usually bring the conversation to a screeching halt. We have all witnessed an elevator speech similar to Carol’s. And witnessed common responses such as "oh, that’s nice." And watched the all to common non-verbal body language response of simply walking away.

Everyone has an internal dialogue that says, "I’ll create my own story when yours is confusing." Ensure that people go "wow, tell me more" to your elevator speech. How, rehearse and test, test, test. An 8th grader should be able to understand your story.

Everyone you come into contact with is a potential advocate…a potential business friend who can help tell your story to others.

I am about to go on a road trip. It is time to clean out the trunk and of course pack all the goodies. What do I find? My trusty CB radio (citizen’s band radio).

Ahhhh, the nostalgia. Before mobile phones, I used the CB to get traffic, weather, accident, and yes, police radar information. My handle (see below) was Silver Bullet as I was driving a silver sports car.

My Uncle Henry first exposed me to a CB. He owned his own business and was on the road nearly every day meeting with clients. I remember riding in his car listening to him talk on the CB, trying to sound like a trucker (trucker’s don’t really like talking to four wheelers), and
keeping us kids from asking questions like what did that mean, when do you say that phrase, and why are you talking in a deeper voice? The latter question was his attempt at blending in with the 18-wheeler crowd. For years we made fun of him about that—of course only when we got older, bigger, and bolder (smile).

All of this rushed into my brain and made me smile…

The language of the CB, like any professional slang, lingo, and jargon is unique to its community. I remember the very first time I used my CB; it was on my way to college. I was a week shy of 18, impressionable, nervous, and concerned that the truckers would discover the impostor and tell everyone for miles around that there was a four wheeler pretending to be a trucker.

As I started to listen, learn, and dip my toe in into the pool water, I became more confident in my abilities.

When I first started using the CB, I was clueless, frustrated, lost, and even at times, slightly agitated because when I was just beginning to believe that I got the hang of things, I would find that I didn’t know something else.

Sound familiar? It’s just like our world of business. Americans are bombarded with hundreds of advertising and sales messages everyday, all competing for our attention. When you have the chance for one-on-one communication, make it count. Social networking, websites,
parties, telephone calls, emails, blogs, podcasts, advertising, and every type of communication imaginable have the potential for someone to say, “wow, tell me more.”

It is unfortunate that most business stories are flat, lack passion, and are complicated.

When you answer the question, “what do you do?” does your answer evoke a “huh” or a “wow, tell me more” response? Does it resonate with the other person? Are you infusing your passion? When you finish your 30-second answer (“elevator speech”) does the person say tell me more with their body and actions? Body language examples would be a slight tilt to the head and eyes widening that indicate curiosity. And actions would be someone asking you questions that clearly demonstrate that the person was listening. I call these type of persons, whole body communicators. Think about this…you have jargon specific to your company, division, department, industry, partner, and experiences. How can someone possibly understand everything from the moment they meet you? They can’t. Most mainstream magazines and newspapers write between the 6th and 8th grade levels; the New York Times writes to the 10th grade level.

Why then, do most people talk at the 14th grade level? Of the thousands of people that I have met over the years at networking events, I can confidently say, nearly everyone must simplify, simplify, simplify their messages. If your grandparents can’t understand what
you are saying, it’s time to retool your story, elevator speech, telephone script, networking script, website, marketing handouts, user manuals, proposals, presentations, you get the idea…

Keep slang, lingo, and jargon to an absolute minimum. Why? Because most often, your audiences WILL NOT understand your language until they have a chance to know you, learn from you, and trust you.

I scanned the Internet for a few fun sites that had CB lingo. I included some of my favorite words from over the years. First, I wanted to share with you some insightful advice applicable to all of us from Woody’s World Of CB.

“The list below represents just about every CB-ism you’ll run across. Please keep in mind that if you jump on the air with a sentence full of slang words and phrases below you’ll sound like an idiot. These are words that you’ll run across throughout a variety of conversations, and it’s helpful to know what they mean. My best advice I can give you is:

1) Listen well before you speak, many parts of the country differ on their protocols and terminology

2) Always be polite

3) Minimize the "Slang". When you talk to someone on the radio, use it like you would a telephone.”

- Alligator: a piece of shredded tire lying in the road and on the shoulder (the tire pieces look like alligators sunning themselves), e.g., look out for the alligators at mile marker 26.

- Ballet Dancer: A trucker’s CB antenna that really sways in the wind and as the truck drives

- Bear or Smokey Bear: State Trooper, e.g., “you got a bear about a mile back on your back door”

- City Kitty: city police officer

- Chicken Coop: The state weigh stations that check for trucker law and safety violations

- Double Nickel: Refers to the speed limit, 55.

- Evil Knievel: Motorcycle cop

- Four Wheeler: Anyone who is not a trucker and generally refers to a car.

- Go Juice: Fuel

- Hammer Lane: Is the left lane of traffic, the passing lane.

- Handle: your nickname that you use while on the CB. “Thanks, all good numbers to you. Silver Bullet out.”

- Latrine Lips: A person who uses foul language, a potty mouth.

- Mobile Mattress: a four wheeler that is pulling a camper.

- Ten-Four: is an affirmative answer or statement—yes or okay.

- Too Many Eggs In The Basket: the truck is overweight.

More Definitions

- CB Gazette taken from Woody’s World Of CB
Monday, August 14, 2006

Do You See What I Don’t See?

Let’s talk about visual design. While on the way back from a wonderful trip to Memphis, I was reading the March 2006 Southwest Airlines’ Spirit Magazine. The ad below seemed to be a bit strange. I spent a few minutes looking at the picture really wondering how and why the company constructed the ad they way they did.

I’m confused.

So I’ll give you the moral of the story up front…use engaging headlines, complementary imagery, and compelling text. Here is a high-level dissection with some questions to help prompt your own thought.

Below you will find two images…the first image has three lines of text covered. The second image is the original.

Take a look at the first image and ask yourself several questions.
1) What is the product?
2) Who role does the woman portray (e.g., cat burglar, mistress {notice no wedding ring), millionaire, or what)?
3) Why is she in front of a safe?
4) Where is she looking/what is she looking at?
5) Has she stolen the key, stolen the goods, or are the goods hers?
6) Does the headline draw you in?
7) Does the text/copy scream, "act now?"

Okay, so now you have answered a few questions and generated some of your own questions. Take a look at the original image. Notice the three lines covered…"Chocolatier" on the second line sort of in the headline, DESAGE Chocolatier on the display in the center over the gold nuggets, and the website URL address.

Does the appearance of these three lines change the answers to your questions? I would easily say yes to (1)–the answer is choclate. Questions (2) through (7) are still ambiguous and can not be answered with any surety.

1) What is the product?
2) Who role does the woman portray (e.g., cat burgular, mistress {notice no wedding ring), millionaire, or what)?
3) Why is she in front of a safe?
4) Where is she looking/what is she looking at?
5) Has she stolen the key, stolen the goods, or are the goods hers?
6) Does the headline draw you in?
7) Does the text/copy scream, "act now?"

Joe Polish has a reputation for being a masterful marketer and copywriter. He created a great resource site for his loyal fan base called Piranha Marketing. His specialty is helping companies that are in the business to consumer service market.

I first discovered him a few years ago when I was referred to the Genius Network. Genius Network offers, "Insightful audio interviews [that] give busy business people direct access to the wisdom and knowledge of leading experts, authors and gurus."

I recently came across an article by Joe titled, "Turn your clients into money makers." I wanted to share what I believe is to be the most important line of text, "what others say about you is infinitely more believable than what you say about yourself."

This is the very reason that our Elevator Speech process includes a step for including a success story. Human beings are by their very nature, skeptical. Healthy skepticism is good. Success stories, testimonials, quotes and the like from clients are integral to your marketing, business development, development, and sales tool kits.

If you don’t have existing client references, it is time to start cultivating evangelists. If you do have these folks in your tool kit, ensure that you are nurturing and politely prompting them to be advocates and to make referrals to your organization.

Remember that each person has their own network of people that they interact with. Each person multiplies your direct and indirect reach. Help yourself take the "work" out of networking and have others help network on your behalf.

I'm in the shower and I hear this great ad from Hewlett Packard.

I have had a radio in the bathroom for yearrrsssss. I catch up on news from the previous night, traffic, and weather. In the Washington, DC metropolitan area, WTOP provides all the information continuously on a schedule (e.g., weather and traffic on the eights).

Here's the scenario: I'm in the shower shampooing my hair when this advertisement comes on the air. It was different, unique, and told a story. Most of the radio ads in this town are borrrriiiinnnggggg. Why? Because they are full of jargon, acronyms, and details. They lack passion and emotion. They lack a hook. They lack compelling words. They lack a call-to-action. And they lack a story that resonates with the listening audience.

The HP ad wowed me on many fronts. First, with the impressive number of 100 million laser printers. Second, by helping me appreciate the magnitude of what many of us take for granted--our little humble laser printer. Third, the copy balanced a quiet message within passion, hope, promise, and inspiration. And fourth, the ad subtlely reinforced the brand reputation HP has come to earn and enjoy.

After the first time hearing it, I said to myself that this is truly one of the best ads that I have ever heard. I endeavored to remember it to post a blog entry. A few minutes later all I could remember was 100 million and HP. The second time I heard it, coincidentally, I was also shampooing my hair. And I remembered more of the story. Not enough to write a good blog entry.

As such, this eager beaver tracked down the right folks at HP (thanks Derrith, Grace, Sarah, and Deborah). They graciously shared the advertisement copy so that I can share it with you. I will also be including it in my book as an example of how to write an ad.

Read the text aloud, with some emotion and passion. As an option, imagine yourself in your own shower washing your hair (smile).

*** Hewlett Packard Radio Advertisement

Title: HP 100,000,000th LaserJet Printer
Length: 60 second radio
Date: June 12, 2006

Somewhere in the world, the one-hundred-millionth HP LaserJet has just entered the workforce.

Its first assignment could be, in some small way, to help an idea sell itself. An idea that popped out of thin air, but has more weight now that it’s on paper—and printed perfectly, we might add.

This one-hundred-millionth HP LaserJet might even print the autobiography of one company so that another company hires it. After all, it’s renowned for helping get new business.

It could really do anything. Help a piece of legislation become law, turn a concept into reality, rally an entire company around a single mission statement. It could be networked between floors of a flagship office, or sit on the only desk of a one-person shop.

It’s hard to say exactly all the ways this one-hundred-millionth HP LaserJet will help a business. All we know is, like the over ninety-nine million LaserJets before it, whether in color or black and white—its dependability will be legendary.

Brilliantly simple. HP.

I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR) a while ago and heard this fascinating interview (listen on NPR) with Christopher J. Moore. Moore is the author of “In Other Words: A Language Lover's Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World.” And I read the book a year later and thoroughly enjoyed it.

From the book jacket: “Literally a thesaurus--of linguistic marvels...the understanding of tongues other than our own offers us a chance to come to a better understanding of peoples other than ourselves--an understanding that can only be for the betterment of us all.”
If you are lover of culture, words, and all that is international, this is a great read and a great gift.

Here are some of my top favorites, among hundreds.

guan xi [noun, Mandarin Chinese, page 84]: “This is one of the essential ways of getting things done in a traditional Chinese society. To build up good guan xi, you do things for people such as give them gifts, take them to dinner, or grant favors. Conversely, you can also 'use up' your guan xi with some by calling favors owed.” {Editor's Note: this is word that I use in my business to identify an approach and way of life to create long-term and lasting relationships. It is a metaphor for networking and building business friendships--establishing a foundation of trust and credibility and growing it over time.}

Il a le cul bordé de nouilles [idiom, French, page 20]: “His backside is fringed with noodles.” This idiom describes someone who is incredibly lucky.

yokomshi [noun, Japanese, page 87]: “...Taken literally meshi means 'boiled rice' and yoko means 'horizontal,' so combined you get a 'meal eaten sideways.' This is how the Japanese define the peculiar stress induced by speaking a foreign language: yoko is a humorous reference to the fact that Japanese is normally written vertically, whereas most foreign languages are written horizontally.”

duende [adjective, Spanish, page 34]: “This wonderful word captures an entire world of passion, energy, and artistic excellence.”

schmooze [verb, Yiddish, page 52]: “A good schmooze is when you connect with others in a meaningful and authentic way, perhaps when you least expect it.”

pohoda [noun,  Czech, page 43]:  “...The saying Jsem v pohod? and translates as 'I'm in pohoda.''s a pain-free, trouble-free state that we should all like to share in.”

uitwaaien [verb, Dutch, page 32]: “A most useful and attractive verb meaning 'to walk in the wind for fun.'”

lagon [adverb, adjective, non, Swedish, page 59]: “It refers an undefined state between extremes, such as 'not too much, not too little," or 'just right.'”

se virar [verb, Portuguese, page 39]:  “From Brazilian Portuguese, this literally means 'to empty.' It is used to describe when you try do something buy you don't have enough knowledge to complete the task.”

taraadin [noun, Arabic, page 69]: “Arabic has no word for 'compromise' in the sense of reaching an arrangement via struggle and disagreement. But a much happier concept, taraadin, exists in Arabic. It implies a happy solution for everyone, an 'I win, you win.'”

attaccabottone [noun, Italian, page 31]: “This is a bore who 'buttonholes' you and tells you long tales of woe. You long to escape from an attaccabottone, but somehow it's always difficult to get away.”

espirit de l'escalier [idiom, French, page 21]: “A witty remark that occurs to you too late, literally on the way down the stairs.”

Did you know that tabloid headline writers earn some of the highest salaries in the advertising business? Think about it? Really...think about it.

The writers from some of the more world famous tabloids (e.g., Star Magazine,Weekly World NewsPeople MagazineThe Globe MagazineThe National Enquirer, and The Sun) have a few seconds to grab your attention. A mere glance of your eye perhaps? One or two “magic words” that scream “hellooooo, look over here.”

How do they grab your attention? Headlines, headlines, headlines. The heavy lifting of getting you to read the magazine is done by the headlines.

It is for this very reason that in business networking, the first few words you say are the most important. Elmer Wheeler said it best: “Your first 10 words are more important than your next 10,000.”

In our “How To Tell Your Story in 30 Seconds or Less: 3 Steps to a Perfect Elevator Speech,” Step 1 is the key. Step 1 is the delivery of the first words that you say after someone says, “What do you do?”

Step 1 is the delivery of your powerful visual headline. It has to get someone to say, either with body language cues or words, “wow, tell me more.”

Are people asking you intelligent, insightful, and interested questions when you tell them what you do? There are a lot of reasons why people do not ask you to tell them more such as too long, too much jargon, lacks passion, too many concepts, and lots more reasons why.  One of the ways to effectively make these reasons disappear is to deliver a powerful, high-level visual metaphor.

Here are a few fun tabloid headlines from City Newstand.

- Judge fires bailiff for using 'Moby Dick' instead of bible to swear witnesses in!
- Man takes out restraining order against imaginary friend!
- February to be canceled!
- Man eats books — and remembers every word!
- Psychic lobster earns gambler $4 million!

What's your headline?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Why You'll Love a Mac

I'm on Yahoo tonight reading some of the headline news. Up pops an advertisement with two guys in a box. I'm thinking to myself, “okay another think outside the box reference.” Was I WRONG!

I was treated to Apple's new “Why You'll Love a Mac” advertising campaign. The Mac computer is represented by a young, hip, Gen X'er who is unshaved and wears bluejeans and sneakers. The PC is represented by Middle-aged guy, wearing outdated glasses, outdated jacket, tie that hangs above the belt and khaki's. The metaphor screams Apple and Microsoft from atop the Empire State Building.

All of the links are to .MOV files.

Out of the box” is the first ad that I watched. It starts with the guy on the right saying, “Hello, I'm a Mac” followed by the other guy saying “And I'm a PC.” Apple has cleverly combined humor and its message. This ad is all about simplicity.

Touche” starts the same way as Out of the Box. Then Mac Guy goes, “And I'm a PC, too.” This ad's message is “I'm the only computer you'll ever need.”

Work” is my favorite. It starts the same way as all of the ads. Here's the exchange...

- Mac Guy: “I'm into doing fun stuff like movies, music, podcasts, stuff like that.”

- PC Guy: “I also do fun stuff like timesheets and spreadsheets and piecharts.”

- Mac Guy slightly dumbfounded: “Okay, uhhh,  ummmm. No, by fun, I mean more in terms of...for example it would be kind of hard to capture a family vacation say, uhhh, with a piechart, ya know.”

- PC Guy: “Not true.”

- Mac Guy: "oh."

- PC Guy confidently turns to his right and a large pie chart is shown. Using a laser pointer, he states: “For example, this light gray area could represent 'hang out time.' Where as this dark gray area could represent 'just kicking it.'”

- Mac Guy: “Yeah, ya know, uhhh, I feel like I was just there.”

The pie chart is clearly meant to poke fun at the typical PowerPoint presentations that are dull and boring. This is the story of my life and I love the ad for it. I live to help organizations put life, spice, and passion into their stories and presentations. Shhhh, the little secret is that a Mac won't fix this problem. Apple is ensuring that the viewer imagines themselves using a boring computer while a Mac offers excitement, life, creativity, and fun.

Beautifully done Apple! 30 seconds of fun, interesting dialogue that hammers home a clear business message.

I first discovered Dan Pink at a Great Ideas Conference through ASAE in 2005. I was a content session leader for my “How to tell your story: 8 steps to a perfect presentation.” Dan was the keynote.

It is more than a great book. It emphasizes, re-emphasizes, and emphasizes again the importance of our right brains, what Dan calls R-directed Thinking. One of the cornerstones to Business Storytelling is right brain thinking. Dan’s book is a perfect complement. As such, I have given 20+ copies as gifts over the past year.

He covered concepts from his new book, “A Whole New Mind.” Some of the chapter titles include Right Brain Rising; Design; Story; Play; and Meaning.

From the Website: Publishers Weekly wrote a great review that said, “Just as information workers surpassed physical laborers in economic importance, Pink claims, the workplace terrain is changing yet again, and power will inevitably shift to people who possess strong right brain qualities.

His advocacy of "R-directed thinking" begins with a bit of neuroscience tourism to a brain lab that will be extremely familiar to those who read Steven Johnson’s Mind Wide Open last year, but while Johnson was fascinated by the brain’s internal processes,

Whole_new_mind_bookPink is more concerned with how certain skill sets can be harnessed effectively in the dawning "Conceptual Age."

The second half of the book details the six "senses" Pink identifies as crucial to success in the new economy-design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning-while "portfolio" sections offer practical (and sometimes whimsical) advice on how to cultivate these skills within oneself.

Thought-provoking moments abound-from the results of an intensive drawing workshop to the claim that "bad design" created the chaos of the 2000 presidential election-but the basic premise may still strike some as unproven.

Furthermore, the warning that people who don’t nurture their right brains "may miss out, or worse, suffer" in the economy of tomorrow comes off as alarmist.”

While updating two of my more popular handouts, “Words & Phrases to Avoid I: For Conversations” and “Words & Phrases to Avoid II: For Presentations,” I came across an very interesting and amusing rant from Susan E. Fisher.

Spend a few minutes and read her blog entry. If you have had the pleasure of having your email go to the junk mail folder or block by the spam police, share them in a blog comment.

Here are the 7 words from Fisher:

“For example, here are seven innocuous words (or phrases) you can’t "say" in an email without risk of alerting the spam filter police.*

- enlarge
- win
- long distance
- free
- big bucks
- click here
- spam”
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