George Orwell once wrote that a classical education would be impossible without corporal punishment. Maybe that’s why it isn’t taught in schools today. A classical education was demanding. It included rhetoric: the art of effective speaking and writing.
What is an argument?
In the Argument Clinic, a sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, an absurdist comedy series, a man pays for a five-minute argument. The customer goes to a room where a man behind a desk hurls abuse at him. The customer interrupts saying he paid for a five-minute argument, and this is not an argument. The abuse hurler apologizes explaining this is Abuse, Argument is next door. Continue reading “The art of persuasion 2: How to argue”
“Any organization that won’t take the trouble to be both clear and personal in its writing will lose friends, customers, and money.”
— William Zinsser, in his 30th-anniversary classic, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
Concentration is at a premium in an increasingly distracted world. And this is why writing a book is so difficult for the busy professional. Writing a book requires long periods of distraction-free thinking-time, focus, and solitude.
Author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, termed Flow as a state of hyper-concentration where we lose all sense of time. We become what we do. Focus or distraction become habitual. But concentration is a skill we can develop with practice. An incremental approach works well. On the other hand, constant interruptions weaken our ability to focus and to think through complexity. When it comes to concentration it’s a case of use it or lose it.
Why should readers read your book? Every business book has a value proposition. Writing a one-sentence reply will help clarify your thinking. Most of us form opinions quickly. And this is true when it comes to business book titles and introductions. First impressions count.
Have a purpose
Purpose, relevancy, and ideas in business writing
In the 1987 comedy, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, stressed marketing executive, Neal Page (Steve Martin), is reluctantly trapped in a shared hotel room with an optimistic and talkative curtain-ring salesman, Del Griffith (John Candy). Del can’t stop talking about the boring details of his life. Eventually Neal loses his cool. After a long tirade, he shouts, “And here’s another thing: Have a point! It makes it so much more interesting for the listener.” Continue reading “Purpose, relevancy, and ideas”
Reviewed by Christopher Richards
Payoff by Dan Ariely is a short book about meaning and motivation. The central thesis is that intrinsic motivators shape long-term beneficial results, whereas extrinsic rewards don’t. Continue reading “Book review: Payoff by Dan Ariely”
Lost in the mists of time our ancestors came up with an astonishing idea. Better to trade with neighboring tribes than to club them over the head and take their stuff. Continue reading “Business is a conversation”
Reviewed by Christopher Richards
A dangerous book
Which messages cause people to comply? Robert Cialdini’s new book addresses this question. Pre-Suasion is a revolutionary way to influence and persuade. Pre-suasion operates by creating favorable conditions a few moments before trying to influence. This is a powerful book, and not without its ethical concerns. Continue reading “Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini”
Perfectionism will kill your writing. Perfectionists are quick to judge, and that can be a good thing under certain conditions. But not when writing the first draft. First drafts aren’t meant to be publishable. Writers must learn to tolerate half-baked ideas and ill-constructed sentences in the beginning. Writing is rewriting.
Perfectionists tend to have unrealistic expectations of themselves and other people. Yet mistakes are a necessary part of learning. We should be kind to ourselves because we all have to start somewhere. Think about how infants learn to walk. They don’t give up the first time they fall down. An infant doesn’t think, “This walking stuff is not for me. I’m no good at it. I’ll crawl through life.” Continue reading “Perfectionism stops you from starting”