Clarity and murkiness from the the Panama Papers whistleblower

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I’ve written about law firm Mossack Fonseca’s wimpy response to the Panama Papers leaks. But what about the anonymous whistleblower who leaked them, “John Doe”? His followup contains direct, clear, definitive statements, which are convincing, and vague, murky generalizations, which aren’t. There are lessons here for everyone who writes in business. Below are excerpts and commentary. (While I … Continued

The true power of links: brief, pointed, powerful writing

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We still write as if people will read our work in print, but they don’t — they read on glass screens. As a result, you should include links in everything you write, from emails to reports. It will make your writing shorter and more powerful. The versatility of links As a blogger, I use links all the … Continued

Nate Cohn, Nate Silver describe how they misread Donald Trump

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I’ve said that true analysts find bigger truths when they’re wrong. Smart people predicted Donald Trump would never win the Republican nomination. It’s pretty revealing what they learned from their mistakes. Let’s look in particular at the mea culpa pieces by Nate Cohn of the New York Times’ feature “The Upshot” and Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com. First, admit your mistake True analysts … Continued

Gender subtext will power the Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump showdown

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Ted Cruz is out. Bernie Sanders can’t realistically win. So it’s Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton for the 2016 presidential election. Regardless of what you hear, watch closely, because gender perspectives will drive this election. Conventional campaign policy dictates a pivot toward the center in the general election, in which candidates talk less about policies that energize … Continued

Beware the litany of passive accusations

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Dan Lyons’ book Disrupted tars the whole startup business with the brush of his experience at HubSpot. One key element is to show that the rest of Silicon Valley is also corrupt with a recitation of all the recent sins of tech companies. Whenever you see a list like this, you should be skeptical. Here’s a paragraph … Continued

Why do authors get paid to give speeches?

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Any author will tell you: the money’s in the speeches. A slightly successful author gets occasional gigs and small fees. A moderately successful author gets regular bookings and decent fees. A monster bestselling author is getting rich off royalties — which is very rare — but she’s also getting paid an awful lot to speak. … Continued

Hal Varian’s timeless insights on thinking

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In December of 1994, economist Hal Varian, who is currently Google’s chief economist, wrote a paper called “How to Build an Economic Model in Your Spare Time.” Ignore the subject matter. It should have been called “How to think clearly.” His advice hasn’t lost relevance in the 21-plus years since he wrote it. (Thanks to Cory Doctorow at … Continued