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

13 proofreading hacks based on the psychology of reading

Typos and mistakes seem inevitable. While you can delegate the proofreading job to someone else who’s an expert nitpicker, that’s not always practical when we’re all sending emails, blogging, and posting on social networks at real-time speed with little editing. But if you’re smart about how brains see (and don’t see) errors, you can catch more … Continued

Should you start with a story or a lede?

The best way to hook an audience is to start with a story. The best way to get people to read what you write is with a descriptive title and a few summary sentences (or as journalists call it, a lede). How do you resolve these contradictory pieces of advice? When I got this question … Continued

The 11 qualities of highly paid, ultra-valuable editors

Some editors get paid $40 per hour. Others charge $400 — and their clients are glad to pay it. What could an editor possibly do to be worth this much? An ultra-valuable editor is a writer’s essential partner, enabling writers not just to accomplish their goals, but to become better writers. To be an editor like that, you … Continued