Tag Archives: business

Singular possessive or plural possessive

DSCN5313[grammarlessons]

Do people still diagram sentences?[1] Is writing still important in business?[2] [3] [4] These thoughts came to mind after a colleague asked about a client’s ad copy. She read a sentence to me, and I listened.

“Does that sound correct?” she asked.

“Depends,” I answered. “Is the word singular possessive or plural possessive?”

She showed me the ad copy on her screen. The sentence went something like this:

The insurer provides health care for the company’s and employee’s best interest.

The conversation went on for a bit on the topic of whether or not the client intended that the word “employee’s” be singular possessive. It made sense to us that a company would be singular. But would a company have a single employee? A quick survey of other colleagues revealed that they didn’t know what we were talking about. In fairness to the other colleagues, it was a very busy day at the office and they may have politely feigned ignorance as to return to their tasks.

The challenge of the ad copy provoked other thoughts on the necessity of good writing skills in a business and professional setting. Think before you write. Write well and your thoughts will effectively communicate your message.

NOTES:
[1] JUANA SUMMERS, “A Picture Of Language: The Fading Art Of Diagramming Sentences,” NPR, August 22, 20147:18 AM, accessed July 28, 2016, http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/22/341898975/a-picture-of-language-the-fading-art-of-diagramming-sentences
[2] Carolyn O’Hara, “How to Improve Your Business Writing,” Harvard Business Review, NOVEMBER 20, 2014, accessed July 28, 2016, https://hbr.org/2014/11/how-to-improve-your-business-writing.
[3] Joyce E.A. Russell, “Career Coach: Are writing skills necessary anymore?,” Washington Post, May 22, 2011, accessed July 28, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/career-coach-are-writing-skills-necessary-anymore/2011/05/18/AFJLUF9G_story.html
[4] Susan Adams, “8 Keys To Better Business Writing,” Forbes, JAN 18, 2013 @ 10:08 AM, accessed July 28, 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/01/18/8-keys-to-better-business-writing/#402ba4f415de
[BONUS] Annie Holmquist, “Almost 1 in 3 Americans Didn’t Read a Book Last Year,” Intellectual Takeout, October 19, 2015, accessed July 28, 2016, http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/almost-1-3-americans-didn%E2%80%99t-read-book-last-year

How to be successful in life and business

WP_IMG_9959Does the world need another advertorial[1] on how to be successful in life and business?

This morning I read the article, “Books To Change Your Life And Your Business,”[2] on LinkedIn. It is rubbish. The books listed will not change your life, but might place you in a better neighborhood. Jeffrey J. Fox’s How to Become CEO[3] includes a chapter on required reading for those interested in rising to the top of the corporate ladder. It is a far better and engaging booklist than the one Linda Coles provides.

But, maybe Americans ask the wrong question. Maybe our culture seeks the wrong definition of success in life and business.

Earlier this week, Sunday morning, I was reminded that Americans who have enough to eat, adequate clothing, a place to sleep and a car, are in the top 15 percent of the world’s wealthiest. Further, if you have plenty to eat, a modest collection of clothing, a savings account, two cars and own your home, you are in the top five percent of the wealthiest people in the world.

What if success in life and business is simply a matter of doing what aught to be done? And doing it the best of an individual’s abilities?

NOTES:
[1] A “blend of advertisement and editorial.” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/advertorial
[2] “Books To Change Your Life And Your Business” by Linda Coles, May 21, 2014, accessed May 21, 2014, https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140521221520-33236097-7-book-choices-for-a-better-life The books mentioned in the article include: Choose the Life You Want by Tal Ben-Shahar, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini and others
[3] Booklist from How to Become CEO include: The Bible, The Art of War, The Book of Five Rings, The Prince, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, anything by Thomas Jefferson, The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway, and others.

Why share your work in social networks?

One of the book cover designs I promote on the social network Behance.

One of the book cover designs I promote on the social network Behance.

“Why share our work in social networks?” was a question recently asked on a professional forum. My reply: two reasons: 1) promotion and 2) personal brand. It was a Malcolm-Gladwell-Blink response and I clicked the “add comment” button without much thought (which is not my usual practice). My thoughts still linger on that question, “Why…?”

A few months ago I came across a few articles asking the question “Does social media promote or enable narcissism?” [1] [2] The article that impacted me most was from a source I never read. In the post, the author, Dodai Stewart, reflects on piece in The New Yorker and her comments are stinging and self-revelatory.

Just look around: Between Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, the whole ME ME ME thing has swept the nation. Here are MY thoughts, MY pictures, MY shopping wish lists! We call it sharing, but it’s just egoistic self-indulgence, usually. LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I WANT. But wait: Enough about me… what do you think about me? [3]

Hm, narcissism and self-absorption. Herein rests the lingering thoughts of a week or so ago.

As a professional, promoting my goods, services and whatnot help to grease the gears of capitalism, right? Conventional wisdom (or at least American business wisdom), purports that if consumers are not aware of your product/service, customers will not purchase from ME. So, I am advised by business owners and other professionals to promote MY skills, services, products, etc. And not only that, I need to establish MY personal brand (so that consumers can be more emotionally and psychologically invested in the products/services I provide).

Maybe social networks are not promoting narcissism and self-absorption as much as one might think. There may be a greater systemic issue that only social networks magnify.

NOTE: [1] Tara Parker-Pope, “Does Facebook Turn People Into Narcissists?,” New York Times, May 17, 2012 accessed January 2, 2013 http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/does-facebook-turn-people-into-narcissists/ [2] Steve Tobak, “Social networks and the narcissism epidemic,” CBSNEWS Money Watch, August 29, 2012, accessed January 2, 2013 http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-57502035/social-networks-and-the-narcissism-epidemic/ [3] Dodai Stewart, “Self-Absorbed Is the New Normal,” Jezebel, June 26, 2012, accessed January 2, 2013 http://jezebel.com/5921468/self+absorbed-is-the-new-normal.

How to write a business bio

Or not. Here’s what professional copywriters will tell you. There are two steps to writing your business bio:

  • provide an overview of your skills and experience.
  • include related or interesting facts to punctuate your credentials.

Pretty simple, right. Wrong. Why is it so difficult to write in third-person? About yourself? (And I need send this to the publicist later today.) So, I wrote a first draft. It works. It’s short. Simple. To the point. But something is missing. So, I searched a couple web sites for help. Here’s a few basic principles I gleaned from Terje Johansen:  [1]

  • write in third person
  • list facts, not wishes
  • cite relevant experiences
  • belong somewhere
  • write tight
  • add a hook

Here’s a few things to add to that list:

  • audience
  • storytelling
  • social media

The business bio I’m writing is to be placed on a publishing house’s web site. So that audience will be authors and readers. A dash of storytelling to the bio helps readers remember who you are because of the narrative you share. And be sure to include your LinkedIn info. Here’s what I plan to send to the publicist:

Matthew Mulder began his career in a quiet Wisconsin studio of a calligrapher where he learned a hands-on approach to color, design, typography and the ancient art of Celtic knots. As creative director, he brings more than sixteen years of experience to the art department and provides creative, strategic solutions to the publishing business. After-hours, Matthew is a culture-maker in the literary community of Asheville, North Carolina where he is invited to present his work to audiences at bookstores, cafés, and fine art centers. His published work appears in such literary journals as Crab Creek Review, H_NGM_N, Small Press Review and others. Follow Matthew on Twitter @mxmulder or LinkedIn.

What do you think?

NOTES: [1] Terje Johansen provides the basics of writing a business bio . Here’s a couple other resources: 16 questions to help you write a douche-free bio and A Great Professional Bio.

Three ways for authors to promote their new book

This is obvious, but essential. Connecting with a local bookseller is vital to promoting your book. Most booksellers see your book title listed in their wholesale catalogs. All you need to do is remind them it’s there and then see if they’ll host an event. Be sure to contact the bookstore’s event coordinator, not the store’s book buyer. The PR  & Events Coordinator schedules store events like readings and book signings and is the best point of contact for a newly published author.

Consider non-bookstore venues. Schools, public libraries, or other venues may have suitable audiences for your book title. Don’t just assume that your audience only buys books at Barnes & Noble. Libraries are great places to read. I’ve read in various locations including a tavern, café, ballroom, art studio, church and several other places. One author I know had a reading at a chocolate shop. Be creative with your events.

Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc. are great tools to promote your book. If you don’t have an account, you’re already behind. Be authentic and approachable on these sites. If you sound like you’re a pushy salesperson, you’ll lose your audience. Share with your social media audience the same way you approach your book reading audience. Make converts from social media followers to book buyers.

Gen-Yers changing the workplace

Gen-Yers are using their personal networks and profiles as an extension of their professional personality. Even though they are using Facebook to mostly socialize with family and friends, they are inadvertently blending the two. Sixty-four percent of Gen-Y fails to list their employer on their profiles, yet they add an average of 16 co-workers each to their “friend” group.

Generation Y: The New Kind of Workforce (via thenextweb)

ROWE (Results Only Work Environment)

Kelly and Moen—who published their work this week in The Journal of Health and Social Behavior—found that employees who switched to ROWE took better care of themselves. Not only did they get an extra 52 minutes of sleep before workdays on average, they were also less likely to feel obligated to work when sick and more likely to see a doctor when they needed to. And the turnover rate among employees that switched to ROWE was only 6%, compared to 11% with the control group. In addition, their increased sense of schedule control and reduced work-family conflict led to increased self-reported energy levels and decreased psychological distress. (via Bosses, Stop Caring If Your Employees Are At Their Desks) (via fastcompany)

ROWE (Results Only Work Environment)

Kelly and Moen—who published their work this week in The Journal of Health and Social Behavior—found that employees who switched to ROWE took better care of themselves. Not only did they get an extra 52 minutes of sleep before workdays on average, they were also less likely to feel obligated to work when sick and more likely to see a doctor when they needed to. And the turnover rate among employees that switched to ROWE was only 6%, compared to 11% with the control group. In addition, their increased sense of schedule control and reduced work-family conflict led to increased self-reported energy levels and decreased psychological distress. (via Bosses, Stop Caring If Your Employees Are At Their Desks) (via fastcompany)

Build a Successful Online Portfolio

1. Ask the question

2. Focus on simplicity

3. Optimize your ‘About’ page

4. Provide a clear means of contact

Read five more steps…

(via freelance switch)

theatlantic:

Can the Middle Class Be Saved?

The Great Recession has accelerated the hollowing-out of the American middle class. And it has illuminated the widening divide between most of America and the super-rich. Both developments herald grave consequences. Here is how we can bridge the gap between us.

Read our September cover story at The Atlantic