Why product warnings backfire

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This weekend I bought a Black & Decker cordless screwdriver for $18.99. It’s an underpowered little gadget that runs on batteries, but it’s just right for the job I had, driving some brass screws into pilot holes without stripping them. And it came with a little something extra: 700 square inches of instructions and warnings. … Continued

We destroyed our institutions. Now what?

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Social media helped us shake up rigid institutions and empower people, but gave us a new world that has proven to be brittle and destructive. The new power structures that have arisen aren’t up to the job of maintaining our civilization. When Charlene Li and I wrote¬†Groundswell ten years ago, we had a utopian vision … Continued

Massachusetts’ new noncompete law is a halfway measure

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I’ve written that noncompete agreements should cost companies something. Massachusetts has finally addressed this issue with a law passed at the end of July, awaiting the governor’s signature. But it’s shot full of holes, and won’t make Massachusetts the competitive innovation economy that it needs to be. In California, noncompetes are void by law. The … Continued

10 ways to make your corporate description (boilerplate) less dreadful

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It’s there. At the bottom of your press releases, on the “Who we are” section of your website, at the end of your whitepapers. It’s the “boilerplate” description of your company. And it’s terrible. You’ve got 50 to 60 words to tell the world who you are, but if you’re like most companies, what you’re … Continued

Why getting stuck is part of coming up with great titles and taglines

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I help people with book titles and taglines. It’s not a linear process, and progress is impossible to measure. That’s a feature, not a bug. I had this insight recently when working with a client on a tagline for his business, along with some other language. (A tagline is a short description of what you … Continued

Why I’m the type of editor who won’t settle

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I hate fluff. I also hate wimpiness, cliched platitudes, endless bloviation, and bad grammar. This affects how I behave as an editor. It reduces the number of clients I have, and changes the way I approach content. Let’s say you come to me with a potential editing job. I look at what needs to be … Continued

At Apple, the customer comes third.

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The most important thing to Apple is the product. After that comes employee efficiency. Customers? They’re in third place. Here’s how I learned that: Yesterday I finally brought my iPhone with its failing battery into the Apple Store in Burlington, Massachusetts. When I showed up, the bright and happy Apple guy in the front of … Continued