The agony index and the end of travel

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I travelled constantly as an analyst. Now I hardly travel at all. Not traveling is better. I’m not a newbie. I’m Platinum for Life on American Airlines. It took me 20 years get that. It’s not worth much to me now. I don’t miss: Planning. The late lamented Hipmunk travel planning tool scored flights on … Continued

The one quality that sets tradespeople above the rest

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In preparation for buying a house in Maine, selling one in Massachusetts, and moving, I’ve dealt with a bunch of people who offer home services. One thing matters more than any other. Communication. This is so obvious. And yet people still don’t get it. At the top of my list of standout communicators is Olympia … Continued

Purge the generic crap from your cover letter

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Job applications and resumes often allow you to write a cover letter. If you write the same generic promises as everyone else, you won’t get the job. The purpose of the cover letter is make your application stand out. The recruiters and managers will be reading dozens or hundreds of similar letters. So why write … Continued

Improve your business writing with the TL;DR principle

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TL;DR is internet slang for “Too long, didn’t read.” The writer typically follows the letters “TL;DR” with a quick summary of the content of a long post. If you embrace the spirit of TL;DR properly, it can dramatically improve the quality of your writing. Here’s how TL;DR works in the informal settings of sites like … Continued

Ask for feedback or reviews . . . but not both in the same survey

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You can use customer contact information to request feedback, or collect text for posting in an online review. But doing both in the same question, like so many “efficient” strategies, is bound to backfire. A disclaimer that undermines trust I recently worked with a title company to manage the purchase of a new home. Home … Continued

Why are brand identity statements so generic?

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In his latest cartoon, Tom Fishburne of Marketoonist expertly skewered those “brand promise” statements you often read (and retch at). He’s completely right that corporate values and “reasons to believe” are filled with cliches and buzzwords. But why? Why is so hard for brands to differentiate? Having helped several companies write these sorts of statements, … Continued

Mortgaging your privacy with AccountChek

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Because I’m moving, I’ve needed to start a bunch of new accounts and apply for various financial instruments. It’s become clear that where corporations used to speak about protecting your privacy, nowadays, they don’t even try. The most outrageous violation was committed by the bank providing my mortgage, which uses and automated data collection system … Continued

United Airlines eschews duct tape — could this be its redemption?

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Ever since it broke Dave Carroll’s guitar, United Airlines has been the poster boy for doing everything possible to abuse customers in the air. Now it has finally found a niche. United vows not to duct-tape passengers to seats like other airlines. Four years ago, I wrote about companies that somehow manage to demonstrate over … Continued