• Books
  • The Four Agreements:

    Of all the books I read in 2017, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz had the biggest impact. I even made a PDF poster listing the four agreements.

    There are so many insights in this book worth pondering. Here are a few:

    “Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about “me.”

    “Whatever people do, feel, think, or say, don’t take it personally. If they tell you how wonderful you are, they are not saying that because of you. You know you are wonderful. It is not necessary to believe other people who tell you that you are wonderful.”

    “You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you. When you truly understand this, and refuse to take things personally, you can hardly be hurt by the careless comments or actions of others.”

    “We make the assumption that everyone sees life the way we do. We assume that others think the way we think, feel the way we feel, judge the way we judge, and abuse the way we abuse. This is the biggest assumption that humans make. And this is why we have a fear of being ourselves around others. Because we think everyone else will judge us, victimize us, abuse us, and blame us as we do ourselves. So even before others have a chance to reject us, we have already rejected ourselves. That is the way the human mind works.”

    “Also, find your voice to ask for what you want. Everybody has the right to tell you no or yes, but you always have the right to ask. Likewise, everybody has the right to ask you, and you have the right to say yes or no.”

    “But there is really no reason to suffer. The only reason you suffer is because you choose to suffer. If you look at your life you will find many excuses to suffer, but a good reason to suffer you will not find. The same is true for happiness. The only reason you are happy is because you choose to be happy. Happiness is a choice, and so is suffering.”

    Please go read the book. Then you’ll be well-equipped to say: “I am awake, I see the sun. I am going to give my gratitude to the sun and to everything and everyone, because I am still alive. One more day to be myself.”

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Books
  • The “new bliss” of storytelling

    No matter what kind of business writing you do, Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols by Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez will help you quickly improve it.

    They give the following structure for talks and presentations, which would also work well for articles:

    1. What Is

    2. What Could Be

    3. New Bliss

    This also provides a user friendly way to create a hero’s journey story (they call it a Venture Scape).

    There are numerous case studies throughout. My favorites are MLK Jr, charity: water, Chick-fil-a, Steve Jobs, Nike and Duarte. It depicts the Venture Scapes for all these people and businesses.

    I plan on keeping this within arm’s reach of my computer and I suspect you will too if you do any kind of writing.

     

     

     

  • Email Copywriting
  • The nicest story email you ever did see

    tiny house

    Emails from retailers are almost always a snooze. All they do is announce sales.

    So I almost fell out of my chair when I recently received this one from L.L. Bean. It tells the story of one of L.L. Bean’s employees (a copywriter, of course) who has a tiny house in Maine.

    It is chock full of photos, too.

    And there is no catch. No sales announcement within it or at the end.

    I hope they will send more emails like these and that it isn’t just a one-off.

    I also hope it goes without saying that whether you are a large retailer or solo entrepreneur, you should send emails like these too.

     

  • Books
  • “You can’t tell people anything, you’ve go to show ’em.” Plus other storytelling lessons from Bruce Springsteen

    If you want to improve your storytelling, or simply enjoy good stories and like Bruce Springsteen, then I highly recommend Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.

    This isn’t ghostwritten and the stories often have a lyrical feel.

    He says his album “The Ghost of Tom Joad” marked the beginning of the second half of his career. It wrestled with the question what is the work for us to do in our short time here.
    This is the storytelling lesson:
    The precision of the storytelling in these types of songs is very important. The correct detail can speak volumes about who your character is, while the wrong one can shred the credibility of your story. When you get the music and lyrics right, your voice disappears into the voices you’ve chosen to write about. Basically, with these songs, I find the characters and listen to them. That always leads to a series of questions about their behavior. What would they do? What would they never do? You need to locate the rhythm of their speech and the nature of their expressions. But all the telling detail in the world doesn’t matter if the song lacks an emotional center. There’s something you have to pull out of yourself from the com you feel with the man or woman you’re writing about. By pulling these elements together as well as you can, you shed light on their lives and honor their experiences.
    In 1995 he gave solo acoustic concerts in support of this album, which gave him new storytelling insights:
    The nakedness and tightrope drama of solo performance is a nervous revelation. It’s one man, one guitar, and “you,” the audience. What’s drawn forth is the emotional nucleus of your song. What’s revealed is the naked bones of your relationship to one another and the music. If your song was written well, it will stand in its skeleton form…I found new subtleties in my vocals, developed a high falsetto and learned to use my guitar for everything from a drum to a feedback-screeching canvas of sound. By the end of that first night, I felt I’d discovered something not as physical but as powerful as what I did the with E Street Band that spoke to my audience in a new tongue.
    And this:
    Most of my writing is emotionally autobiographical. I’ve learned you’ve got to pull up the things that mean something to you in order for them to mean anything to your audience. That’s where the proof is. That’s how they know you’re not kidding. (p. 267)
    What is the equivalent of a solo performance in your business or career? How can you speak to your audience in a new tongue? As Bruce says, “c