5 bullshit things about book publishing and the reasons behind them

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Today I launch #5BullshitThings, an industry-by-industry analysis of the whacked-out way the world works now. I’ll start with book publishing. When rapid change hits stodgy industries you get disruption. Disruption generates cognitive confusion and threatens power dynamics. That, in turn, generates hypocrisy, and incomprehensible behavior. In other words, bullshit. Let’s look at five bullshit things about … Continued

Adobe video embraces marketing without buzzwords

Adobe’s latest video taps into how we all feel about marketing jargon. My question is . . . is Adobe really who you think of as a jargon buster in marketing technology? Or are they part of the problem? Thanks to Steve Woodruff for the tip.  

Satya Nadella is “deeply” conflicted about laying off 7,800 people

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Letting people go in bunches varies from bad to dreadful. You can’t make it right with clear language, but you can certainly make it worse. On the heels of Satya Nadella’s excellent mission statement email, he had to dump 7,800 staff, mostly because of Steve Ballmer’s ill-conceived decision to acquire Nokia’s phone business. I’d give Nadella’s layoff … Continued

The 5 R’s process to cure passive voice

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I’ve cured many writers of the passive habit. I can cure you, too. All it takes is the 5 R’s: recognize, raise awareness, reconsider, rewrite, and retrain. Think of this process the way you’d think of changing your diet. Let’s say you want to cut down on sugar. First you need to recognize why sugar is a … Continued

5 passive-voice evasions and how to fix them

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We’re coming up on 100 years since William Strunk, Jr. told us to avoid the passive voice. What’s the big deal? Simply put: it makes the reader work harder. It hides the “who” in sentences, plunging the reader into a mysterious world in which things happen without actors or causes. Creepy! I’ll illustrate five common passive-voice … Continued

How I develop ideas

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Ideas just happen. Or do they? As I’ve set myself ambitious goals for content, I need a process that generates ideas reliably. It fascinates me how my process requires both structure and randomness to work. I honed these techniques as SVP of idea development for Forrester Research, and now I use them constantly. Perhaps you … Continued

Clear communication in a crisis at Reddit

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The social network Reddit is in trouble. Lots of its popular “subreddit” forums went dark as volunteer moderators protested the firing of Victoria Taylor, a popular Reddit staffer. But rather than stonewall, the company’s management is now attempting to tell the truth, clearly and transparently. It’s working. Communication succeeds when it’s matched to the audience. The audience … Continued

How to disagree with people

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People on Facebook are beastly to each other. It’s gotten worse since Ferguson, Charleston, and the recent Supreme Court decisions. I’m sick of it. I’d like to propose a way to fix it. I fiercely criticize things on this blog and I will not stop. But starting now, I vow to criticize writings and ideas, not … Continued