When to break my writing rules

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My most popular post ever included ten writing tips and the psychology behind them. On social media, I see people reading these tips with no context and objecting. “Passive voice is perfectly fine,” they say, or, “You wouldn’t get very far if you only used short sentences.” You want to break my rules? I’m here … Continued

Airline jargon explained

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In any industry, there are words that industry insiders use to make everyone else feel confused and inferior. The difference is, with airlines, the insiders are flying the plane and serving you in the cabin, and you’re literally strapped in and powerless to escape. So here’s an airline-jargon-to-English dictionary, with help from Ask the Pilot … Continued

Creative agency jargon at J. Walter Thomson

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People leave companies and executives have to write statements. These statements must say everything and nothing at the same time. This is not the place for creativity, but try telling that to J. Walter Thomson. Matt Eastwood, Chief Creative Officer of the agency J. Walter Thomson, is out. They’re not replacing him. This creates a … Continued

How to write a short bio that’s not awful (Ask Dr. Wobs)

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Everybody needs a short bio, whether its at the top of your LinkedIn page or on the bookflap of your first book. But it’s hard to write about yourself succinctly and objectively. That’s why people writing their own bios so often end up sounding like an idiot. Dear Dr. Wobs Why are bios so bad? … Continued

STAT News reveals why biotech speaks fluent bullshit

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In “The Biotech Devil’s Dictionary: Your Guide to the inanities of industry jargon,” Damian Garde of STAT News lists 16 bullshit terms that are common in biotech news and coverage. Why do they exist? To make the ordinary sound special. Here are part of his excellent list, with my own translations: 2.0 (adj.): A largely meaningless … Continued

Salesforce puts customers on the execution block with jargon assault

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Salesforce is a great program for small business. Each of its customer sites has an administrator, many of whom are non-coders. That’s why a recent “critical update” featuring “block execution” sounded scary — but incomprehensible — to many. The salesforce email: simultaneously opaque and terrifying A correspondent working in a small financial advice firm forwarded … Continued

Nike hoists up a release about its NBA uniforms from way downtown. Rejected!

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When it comes to your passion for the NBA, Nike knows it’s the uniforms that really excite you. They’ve given 110% in their superlative- and jargon-packed press release. My critique feels like a slam dunk; let me know if you think it’s an airball. Here’s yesterday’s Nike release. I’ve put the superlatives and other weasel … Continued

The lesson of Juicero: corporate writing should not sound like a superhero movie

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It’s been a tough week for Juicero, a startup company that makes an internet-connected juicing machine. Some Bloomberg reporters figured out you could make juice from the juice packs without using the Juicero machine at all. The CEO’s response on Medium is completely ineffective, because he can only see the world from within his limited, Silicon-Valley … Continued