Explaining digital disruption to three-year-olds

As an analyst, I told stories about complex technology, but I learned to tell them simply. When you’re trying to get your point across, that’s essential. One night in 1999 I was giving my three-year-old a bath. My kid was bright, good with language, and, like Dad, a bit of a smartass. And like many three-year-olds … Continued

Donald Trump, memes, and the dangers of post-factual politics

In 1998, Donald Trump told People Magazine “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country.” That’s the meme, accompanied by the graphic at right. Rosemary Olsen posted it on Facebook and said “I fact checked this. It’s true.” 14,901 people shared it. And it’s completely false. … Continued

Ridiculous email disclaimers

Don’t waste words. That includes meaningless disclaimers at the bottom of your emails. This week I dismantled a recruiting email with an astoundingly low meaning ratio of 6%. At the bottom of that email was the following disclaimer: Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail. This message (including any attachments) is confidential and may be privileged. … Continued

Those polls you’re reading? They’re bullshit.

I’m sick of people treating presidential poll numbers as if they are facts. They’ve got no connection to the upcoming election. Drawing precise conclusions from a sample of 450 likely voters a year before the election is bullshit. Look, I’m no newcomer to consumer surveys. I spent 18 years launching and working with Forrester’s broad … Continued

What’s your second skill?

What’s your skill? Good with people, good with words? Good for you. But what could you do with a second skill? Great coders are in demand — but there are a lot of them. Writers graduate from college and swarm like ants across the job market. You need one great skill. But one is no longer enough. First off, demand … Continued

Jack Dorsey’s Twitter layoff email shows the value of honesty

Days after taking over as Twitter’s permanent CEO, Jack Dorsey has laid off 336 people. You could learn a lot from the straightforward, honest, and sensitive way he tells his company about it. The corporate layoff is a communications trap for leaders. It makes them insecure, so they they adopt HR bullshit and talk about “reduction in force”, … Continued

Are Dell and EMC dead? An unclouded perspective.

Cade Metz of Wired wants us to know that even with a $67 billion merger, Dell and EMC are doomed. The cloud will kill them. The reasoning is sophisticated, but the language is simple. You could learn a lot about powerful writing from this article. Let’s break it down. Titles and opening sentences are crucial when … Continued

With email, you can prove you’re an idiot in 150 words or less

Short email is a great idea. But even a short email can be vacuous. A short, dumb email is the quickest possible way to make a bad impression. Learn not to be boring. Here’s a recruiting email that Ken Camp received. It’s not only short, it’s spectacularly content-free. Here’s the whole thing, meaningless words in bold: Subject: Opportunity Good … Continued