Brinksmanship with News Corp. President Peter Chernin

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A Forrester Forum, like any big event, is quite a production. As part of it, you interact with powerful people in industry, people like Peter Chernin, and that doesn’t always go exactly as planned. I’ll take you behind the scenes at one of these events that included an unexpected moment of terror. It’s September 2004, … Continued

All I want is the perfect publishing model

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I need to decide how to publish my upcoming book Writing Without Bullshit. Here’s what I want from a publishing model: everything. I’m not going to get it, of course. But you can help me figure out which imperfect model is best. So far I don’t have a book, I have an outline. I’ll finish the manuscript by December. … Continued

The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker: a worthwhile writing guide

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I just finished Steven Pinker’s book on writing style. I like Pinker’s take on writing; I learned a lot from it. It’s a great guide and you should read it, but be aware that business writers need to bring a different and more practical perspective to the advice in this book. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker is … Continued

How to write a book proposal that makes publishers drool

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If you want to publish a non-fiction book, don’t start by writing it. Start by writing a proposal. Tell the editor at a publishing house what’s in it and why it will sell. If you can’t do this, you’ll never be able to write (or sell) a book. Nobody writes a book first and then … Continued

Jeff Bezos’ non-denial denial of the New York Times Amazon takedown

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The New York Times published a brutal takedown of Amazon culture this past weekend. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sent around an internal email to deny the charges. But Bezos’ reply is so weak, it makes you wonder if his heart it is in it. The Amazon story, “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace,” … Continued

Spreadsheet wars, camaraderie, and the pink slime incident

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It’s not about what you’re building. It’s about who you’re building it with, and how it feels. It’s the hot summer of 1985 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I’ve left Software Arts, the company that created VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet. After Software Arts lost focus, a new competitor called Lotus 1-2-3 came along and crushed it. I’m still … Continued

You should write like Larry Page in his Google-Alphabet announcement

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Google CEO Larry Page’s reorg announcement — about creating a new parent company called Alphabet — is clear, direct, and personal. It’s way better than any press release. You should learn to write like this. Frankly, I had just been reading all the articles attempting to “clarify” this announcement until I finally read Larry Page’s post … Continued

An interview with no-bullshit dietitian Kerri Hawkins

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No topic has more bullshit than people writing about diets and nutrition. I learned that from my favorite food expert, Kerri Hawkins. Today, I interview her about the way diet companies, food companies, restaurants, and media bullshit us about food. Kerri is the the past president of the Massachusetts Dietetic Association and has helped people to lose … Continued