The “Will It Blend” experience of a book index

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The joy of BlendTec’s “Will It Blend” videos is that they take expensive, painstakingly produced items — like iPhones — and reduce them to an undifferentiated mess. And that’s just what a book index does to the content in a book. Writing Without Bullshit covers a wide range of content, because everything is fodder for a writer. … Continued

Ludicrous facepalms to avoid when dealing with authors

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Here’s what you need to know about authors: they spend a lot of time on their books, care about them, and think that they and their books are special. If you respect what they created, they’ll be happy to talk to you about anything reasonable. If not . . . well, they’re very witty smartasses, … Continued

Wells Fargo’s vision and values led to its downfall

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Visions statements inspire. Wells Fargo’s inspired fraud. A close read of the company’s Vision & Values Statement reveals how the bank’s employees took some of the statements in this vision too far, ignored others, and created a corrupt scheme to meet quotas and violate customers’ trust. Elizabeth Warren mentioned the Vision & Values Statement during her withering … Continued

No one will keep you safe. Not Trump. Not Clinton. No one.

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Bombs went off in New York and New Jersey. This has become an occasion for our leaders and candidates to say what they are going to do to keep us safe. The thing is, there is no way for them to keep us safe. That’s scary as hell, but it’s incontrovertibly true. Here’s what kept … Continued

UPS and its customers are slaves of its technology

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UPS has the information about customers, locations, and shipments to be an amazing leader in customer experience (CX). It has the people, devices, and bar codes to turn the Internet of Things — of packages — into an artificially intelligent engine for customer delight. But based on my experience, UPS is the slave, not the master, … Continued

Restraining exuberant engineers (Ask Dr. Wobs)

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Collaboration — especially with those who are not professional writers — creates challenges for clear communication. Today we explain how to collaborate with overenthusiastic engineers. This question reflects a common challenge for product descriptions and engineers: Dear Dr. Wobs: How can I write good product datasheets? Technical people write datasheets as a very long list of features with … Continued

10 tips for effective email (infographic)

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Ineffective email wastes more time than anything else we read — or write. And it’s an easy problem to solve. Effective emails have a purposeful structure, just like any other document. Here’s an infographic with ten tips for emails that get things done, based on Chapter 21 of my book Writing Without Bullshit. Choose a subject line … Continued

Why all this talk about the “median” income?

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The US Census Bureau released figures yesterday showing that, in 2015, the median annual household income in America increased by 5.2% over a year earlier. That’s an increase of $2,798, to $56,516 per year. Why talk about the “median” and how is that different from an average? I’ll explain. Put simply, when you’re talking about income, the … Continued