Case study tip: the quickie character sketch

It’s easy to forget that businesses are made of people. When you write a case study for a business book, blog post, or article, readers need to see those people as human. Here’s how to do that quickly without getting in the way of the story you’re telling. People in business prose need to be … Continued

How close to perfection can you get? (Ask Dr. Wobs)

Today’s question is about the pursuit of perfection — not only how to do it, but when it makes sense. Dear Dr. Wobs: On perfection: how close to 100% error-free can an editor aspire to? What tools can help a mere mortal get a little closer? Martha Pings Perfection is a dangerous goal Dear Martha: … Continued

Will video make text and writing obsolete?

Everyone consumes content online now, and video is ubiquitous. Is it time to admit that writing is obsolete? Not quite. But you must recognize the power of video and understand how it works with text to improve how-to and narrative communication. I recently had a mindset-altering conversation with a third-year medical student. She’s helping me … Continued

How an open-ended, curious mindset creates career success

Everybody has questions. Everybody wants answers. What determines your future is the kind of questions you ask, and whether the answers satisfy or stimulate you. One way to succeed is to get really good at something. This competency-focused mindset can get you a good job, and if you’re good at something for which there is … Continued

7 collaboration tools and tips that make book writing go smoothly

Collaborating on a book is hard. Deadlines make it harder. The key is to develop a disciplined process and stick with it. To help you get to the end without tears, I’ll share some battle-tested collaboration tools and tips that will keep you focused on content excellence, not process glitches. (You’ll see where the bear … Continued

7 reasons why thought leaders are often wrong

Thought leaders are more likely to be wrong than other kinds of thinkers. The Darwinian marketplace of ideas ensures it. You should be skeptical about everything they say. Yesterday, I defined thought leaders this way: A thought leader is a person who has created a coherent body of ideas and is effective at communicating and … Continued

6 ways that clear writing clarifies muddy thinking

There is so much blather that passes for thinking these days. If you imagine that you have a good argument, write about it. You’ll make it far stronger (or maybe figure out that you were wrong). I don’t care if your thesis is “Rex Tillerson is the best secretary of state in decades,” “Landscape architecture … Continued

Freelance writers: should clients get to see your notes?

A startup recently hired me to write a tag-line and a paragraph of description about their company. I spent most of a day with different groups of their people and took notes on my PC. The next day, as I was working on the assignment, the client asked for a copy of my notes. I’d never gotten that … Continued