We spend all day communicating, and we’ve invented myriad ways to do it. You can buy a stamp, press a button, rent a room or use a microphone. Choose wisely.
Don’t send an email when you should pick up the phone instead.
Don’t send a text when an email makes more sense.
Don’t have a meeting when a memo is more likely to get the point across.
Don’t give a speech when a blog post would reach more people with more impact.
And don’t write it down when it’s better said live…
If your delivery drivers have to do six deliveries a day, they’ll rush from the first moment. They’ll be super efficient at easily measurable metrics. They’ll cut a few corners.
If they only have to make five deliveries, you can ask them to spend that ‘down’ time doing things your customers will actually remember. They can invest in less easily measurable metrics. Instead of cutting corners, they’ll embrace them.
Systems with slack are more resilient. The few extra minutes of time aren’t wasted, the same way that a bike helmet isn’t wasted if you don’t have a crash today. That buffer will save the day, sooner or later.
One thunderstorm can cripple the air traffic system for six major cities, because each plane is stacked so efficiently that the ripple cascades, leading to failure and cancellations. In the old days, when efficiency was measured over a longer term, there was enough buffer to absorb a bump like that.
The mistake happens when we over-index on the easily measured short-term wins and forget to account for the costs of system failure.
Competitive environments push profit seekers to reduce slack and to play a short-term game. If your organization hits the wall, the market will survive, because we have other options. But that doesn’t mean you will survive.
Slack is actually a bargain.
Not Wall Street.
As we race toward a post-literate world, the surprising shortcut is compelling indeed: Learn to write.
Audiobooks outsell print. AI can turn text into speech. People scan, they don’t read.
Doesn’t matter. Learn to write.
Yes, it would be great if you could become a full-stack developer. If you put in the hard work to be a civil engineer or a mathematician on the cutting edge. But most people were persuaded from an early age that this isn’t the work for them.
If you’re an actor, being able to write means that you can cast yourself.
If you’re a marketer, being able to write means you can tell your story.
If you’re looking for a job, being able to write makes you part of a special minority.
Writing is organized thinking on behalf of persuasion.
Writing is your opportunity to stand out, to pitch in and to make a difference.
And you don’t need a permit or equipment. You don’t need an insider’s edge, or money either.
Writing may be the skill with the highest return on investment of all. Because writing is a symptom of thinking.
There always is.
The song you’re listening to will end, a surprising news story is going to change the status quo and you’ll get feedback you didn’t expect.
It’s easy to imagine that things are going to calm down, that there’s a neutral position coming up, and that it’s all going to go back to normal.
But the swirl is normal. It’s always been this way. Changing.
There is no ‘ever after’. There’s just the chaos of now.
That’s how many words get scanned the first time through. Perhaps five on a billboard.
Which means that your memo, your ad, your announcement, your post–you get ten words.
Highlight the ten of the 1,000 you’ve written. Which ten do you want someone to scan so that they’re intrigued enough to slow down and read the rest?
If you can begin with the ten words and write around them, you have the foundation for an effective message.
As Jay Levinson said, the best billboard ever said, “Free coffee, next exit.”
What do we see when we scan your work?
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