Episode #014: The Rule of Writing, Great Storytelling, and Get Learnin’

Duration: 10 min, 19 sec.

Summary:

 • “Why Intelligent Minds Like Jeff Bezos Embrace the Rule of Writing” by Justin Bariso

 • “How Great Storytelling Can Make Your Business Stand Out” by Michael Plummer

 • “Time To Get Some Learnin’ Done” by 46ALPHA

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Links from this episode:

 • Why Intelligent Minds Like Jeff Bezos Embrace the ‘Rule of Writing’ | Inc.com

 • How Great Storytelling Can Make Your Business Stand Out (forbes.com)

 • Time to Get Some Learnin’ Dun : 46ALPHA

Rough Transcript:

This week’s three topics:

Why intelligent minds embrace the rule of writing

How great storytelling can make your business stand out

And it’s time for me to get some learnin’ dun.

The date is Sunday, August 29th, 2021, the time is 2100 hours, and you’re listening to Episode #14 of Communicate For Effect.

Segment 1

OK, a good Sunday evening to everyone out there.

I’m Mike Nicholson, on my new Logitech Pro headset and mic.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough is quoted as saying, “Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard.”

There are different variations of the “writing is thinking” quote, and it’s true.

Forcing yourself to put your thoughts down into words is a great forcing function and helps you translate the thoughts in your head.

They didn’t use that quote in this Inc magazine article, but it’s the same thing.

Justin Bariso writes about how people like Jeff Bezos embrace the rule of writing.

He says before a meeting to discuss a new product or idea, Bezos would arrange for an executive to write a narrative in the form of a six-page memo.

While some leaders would try to write such a memo in just a few hours, Bezos said the best ones took at least a week to complete.

He quotes Bezos as saying, “The great memos are written and re-written, shared with colleagues who are asked to improve the work, set aside for a couple of days, and then edited again with a fresh mind.”

The team would then spend the first 2o minutes of a meeting reading the memo, and the better the memo, the better the conversation.

Using this method of writing memos helps get people thinking.

Bariso details the benefits of writing:

Clear Thinking.

Clear writing leads to clear thinking, and vice-versa.

That is essentially the David McCullough quote.

Improves memory, understanding, and application.

He says, “Experienced copywriters know that one of the best ways to learn to write great copy is to transcribe writing from other great copywriters. This practice helps you create your own style while borrowing from the best practices of others.”

And improves communication.

He talks of editing with a fresh mind.

I always try to do the first draft of a paper, and then walk away and come back with a fresh mind to re-look.

If I can, I get multiple eyes on a draft because everyone sees something different.

In the early days of Twitter, with the 140-character limit and everyone having real conversations and dialogue, what I appreciated is that for those that like to write very long, overly wordy emails and letters, it was a forcing function for them to simplify.

It helped people distill their thoughts down to the most basic, most simple phrase to communicate their thoughts.

All of this to say, that the process of writing and editing, can help clarify your thoughts and improve your communication on a given topic.

Segment 2

In Forbes, Michael Plummer talks about how great storytelling can really make your business stand out.

He says, “If you are searching for the best way to build brand loyalty and separate your business from the flock of competitors, it’s time to reconsider how you tell your company’s story.”

Stories from the heart can be a valuable business tool.

He cites the Apple and Microsoft stories of starting a business from their garage, James Kraft selling cheeseburgers door-to-door, and how the first glass of Pepsi was sold by a pharmacist in North Carolina.

You have a unique story, everyone does.

“It’s not enough for you to simply tell customers what products and services you offer. You must share the real-life reason behind the idea for your business or a new product. Making it personal will help your customers relate and drive sales.”

So this may be hard for some – getting personal with people who don’t know you – but how you tell your story should be unique.

I will say don’t try to force yourself to be something you are not, it doesn’t work.

Be authentic, and honest, and real.

He says you need to get up close and personal, get your customers involved, emphasize how your business promotes social change, and think about direct mail.

All of those were good thoughts, the last one where he went to “think about direct mail” seemed a little out of place to me because we’re talking about concepts and ideas and then all of a sudden jump to one of many potential ways to execute this topic.

So, my 2 cents.

Know yourself and know your audience.

I already talked about knowing yourself, don’t try to be someone you are not – unless you’re an asshole.

Know your audience because how you tell a story depends on who your audience is and where they are talking.

If your audience is on Twitter, geographically dispersed, how you tell a story for them will be different than how you tell your story as a small mom-and-pop store that may use direct mail.

The bottom line for this is people want to connect with a brand, and telling your story – making that business logo you have more than just a box or a circle – is a great way to have your customers make a connection with your organization.

That helps improve trust and helps improve the bottom line if you’re in a for-profit business.

Segment 3

Finally, some personal news.

I just started taking my first three courses in Virginia Tech’s Science and Technology Studies program.

I’m going to start working on my Ph.D.

My career has been spent in mass communications, social media, misinformation, disinformation, and I’m interested in exploring that seam between the rhetoric, the technology platforms (search engine algorithms, social media platforms, etc), and the impact it has on society.

STS is an interdisciplinary look at how society, policy, and culture are impacted by science and technology.

My interest in this field of study was piqued after the 2016 U.S. election and all the turbulence that surrounded it.

Cambridge Analytica, Russian interference in the 2016 election, filter bubbles, and the widening red stream/blue stream of information being communicated to the American public.

I assume my writing on my site will reduce in quantity a bit, just because of all the reading and writing I’ll be doing in the program, but it might increase in quality as it will be influenced by my ongoing studies over the next few years.

And I think this program, in particular, is well suited for me.

In one of the initial class discussions, we got talking about the challenges of communicating science to large groups of people with varying levels of knowledge.

I got to use one of my favorite quotes in a discussion, “A genius that can’t communicate effectively is the functional equivalent of a moron.”

In other words, you can have the smartest scientist in the world, but if that person can’t effectively communicate that information to others then that information is only useful to them.

It seemed to resonate.

So, I’m going to be busy. New job, new school in the evening and weekends, I’m a glutton for punishment.

Wrap Up

So that’s a wrap for #14.

I can’t find the stat right now but UI read that the average number of episodes a podcast has is 14, so I’m just about over that hump.

If you have any questions or comments for me, just go to 46alpha.com and shoot me a note.

I’m Mike Nicholson, and I’ll do this again next week.

 

Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

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