The parable of Ray’s Helicopter Company

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by Josh Bernoff Once there was a man named Ray who was the CEO of a company that made helicopters. In his youth he had been an avid pilot. Soon after, he started the company with a few friends. Over time, Ray’s Helicopter, as the company was known, grew rapidly to command an impressive share of the … Continued

How to write a job description that’s not bullshit

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Hiring is hard enough. If your job description says “we’re full of bullshit,” you’ll attract bullshitters and repel genuine human beings. Here’s the gist of my advice: write shorter and speak directly to applicants. If you want to see how not to do that, check out a job description Johnson & Johnson has posted (hat-tip to the brilliant … Continued

20 years an analyst

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For 20 years, I did the same thing, mostly. I was a technology analyst at Forrester Research from 1995 until last month. If you do one thing for a long time, you should learn from it. My job at Forrester molded my ways of thinking more than anything else I’ve done (save becoming a parent). Perhaps … Continued

Is it a housing bubble or just another rhetorical question?

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Harry Truman supposedly longed for a one-handed economist. As he pointed out, “All my economists say, ‘on the one hand . . . on the other . . .’ ” When the title of an article is a rhetorical question, I long for a one-handed reporter. I know there’s a real issue here. When a reporter … Continued

Companies with a purpose

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Do your customers know who your company is? Do you? After my critique of Inovalon’s impenetrable “Who We Are” page, I began to wonder about purpose statements. My hypothesis is that companies with powerful, clear, differentiated statements about who they are have more effective employee teamwork and strong brands. Note that I don’t say that the statement causes … Continued

Send me your awful emails, job descriptions, and web pages

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I need your help. Withoutbullshit.com needs fuel. I know you’re drowning in crappy stuff. I want to help. My post rewriting Inovalon’s “Who We Are” page was very popular. But I need more. Feed me! And I can keep things confidential. Send me: The email you got from your managers or HR department. The pitch … Continued

The cowardice of the “expected”

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The word “expected” is a clear sign of bullshit in any written material. Here’s why: Writing contains two kinds of easily distinguished statements: facts and opinions. The writer vouches for the facts. And over time, you can see if the opinions turned out to be true. But a statement with “expected” is an opinion stated … Continued

David Ortiz: Big Papi without the bullshit

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The Boston Globe did a whole section focused on Red Sox slugger David Ortiz today, including a Q&A interview. I was struck by just how direct Ortiz is, especially in contrast to the bullshit-laden interview with an NBA Players Association official that I wrote about last week. Athletes of this stature usually have two modes: … Continued