Enlightened Conflict

the last draft is for the reader

September 21st, 2017

writing the first-draft

 

====================

“The first draft is for the writer.

The second draft is for the editor.

The last draft is for the reader.”

 

——–

Unknown

<something I had scribbled down on a scrap of paper>

 

================

 

“I would go on writing even if I know I would not be published.”

 

—-

John Le Carre

 

=====================

 

Ok.

 

writing-typing-legacy-blog-thoughtsI write a lot.

 

Probably too much.

 

In my personal writing I can honestly say I have never posted something unedited.

Even the easiest things I have written get tightened up, edited and revised as I reread. Sometimes not much … but everything gets tweaked – some a little … some a lot.

 

Even then … typos remain.

 

Now.

 

In my professional life I use outlines, drafts and finals.

 

I do this because my mind is always at work.

 

I hear things, read things & see things and all the while my mind is juggling all of this stimulus rethinking, rewriting and recreating.

 

By the way … this acknowledges that I could, on occasion, run into some aspects of unintended plagiarism.

 

But because I am an ‘editor of things’ this means I am comfortable rearranging writing an editingthings. In fact … I never get tired of rearranging let alone thinking. I would do it 24/7 if I didn’t have to sleep.

 

However.

 

Doing all of this without any purpose or objective is simply mental masturbation.

 

That’s why the three draft rule is a good one.

 

The first draft is all about you, what you think and how you want to say things.

 

The second draft smooths out the edges and insures the personal “you” is getting in the way of clear communication and truth.

 

The third draft insures whatever YOU want to say connects with what THEY need to hear, want to hear and should hear.

 

It is a mistake to reverse this order. Reversing the order strips the presenter of any passion and creativity … it becomes more of an “order taker” type presentation or document.

 

Anyway.

 

The other thing people say about drafts is that each one eliminates so that the last one is the ‘brevity’ version.

 

I don’t agree <in general>.

hourglass

The three draft method is actually more like an hour glass.

The first draft is almost always too long and … well … too.

The second draft tends to peel shit off of what you have.

The third draft more often puts some meat back on the bones tied to the reader/audience.

 

A lot of people, simplistically, balk at this. They don’t see the meat as useful and abhor adding things at this stage.

 

Once again, I disagree.

 

I disagree because I  typically think of Claude Hopkins, a man who pioneered the concept of advertising as we know it, in 1923 <“Scientific Advertising” is a worthwhile read with worthwhile advice applicable even in today’s world>.

 

If Hopkins was known for one thing it would be “persuasion.” Everything centered on that. Not brevity or pictures versus words or any of that bullshit we waste time pontificating over these days … just persuasion and doing whatever is necessary to persuade.

 

For example.

With a prospect standing before a salesperson, would you confine him to any certain number of words? That would be an unthinkable handicap.

 

Successful writing almost always depends on maintaining perspective – keep in mind no one really reads what you write for amusement <but that doesn’t mean you cannot amuse on occasion>.

 

Consider them as prospects standing before you, seeking for information.

Give them enough to get action.

 

Some advocate large type and big headlines. Yet no one likes salespeople who talk only in loud voices.

 

We should measure everything we do by salespeople standards not by everybody needs what i am selling deserve lifeamusement standards. Ads are not written to entertain. When they do, those entertainment seekers are little likely to be the people whom you want. That is one of the greatest advertising faults. Ad writers abandon their parts. You can never forget you are salespeople, not a performer.

 

Seek a sale, not applause.

 

 

Regardless.

 

All presentations really can get boiled down into 3 important aspects:

 

 

  • Figure out what you want to sell <persuade people to think or do>

 

 

  • Figure out what you want to say

 

  • Figure out how you want to say it

 

All the other mumbo jumbo on ‘tricks to effective presenting’ is irrelevant if you don’t figure out these two things. In fact, I would argue you could throw away all the presentation books if you figure these two things out.

 

What you want to say sounds simple but it is not. Because inevitably you get caught up in ALL the things you want to say, prioritizing what you want to say and getting what you want to say down on paper <or whatever format you elect to organize the presentation>.

 

All I can say for sure is that you need to put it in a draft, a document or a script. Without it you cannot edit. And without editing <unless you are Bill Clinton> you are screwed.

 

Next.

 

Figuring out how you want to say it.

 

Okay. Let me tell you a truth, a fact, a ‘something no one really wants to hear.’

 

speak out microphone find your voice

99% of the time what you just figured out to say will sound like crap if you just read it as a presentation.

Maybe 99.9% of the time. Writing & speaking are two different skills. They may be derivatives of each other but one typically does not translate directly to the other.

 

There will always be presenters who are obviously reading their presentation script off a teleprompter <which is a skill in itself by the way> and it sounds obviously stilted and in some cases like it was the first time they had heard these words out loud.

 

And the issue wasn’t because they were reading a script <another complaint young people throw around when arguing they want to be ‘natural’ when presenting>. It was the script they were reading. They wrote something that sounded good in their head when they read it … but sounded stupid when actually saying it. By the way … that is why rehearsing is important.

 

Why does this shit happen? Well. Let me give you 3 thoughts <beyond the obvious lack of rehearsing>:

 

–          Forced rules of behavior

 

All the things I am going to type drive me crazy, but maybe this one the most.

These are the ‘rules’ like … you cannot stand still, or you have to move, or you can’t have your hands in your pockets, or … well … just go ahead and pick up a ‘how to’ presentation book … they will list all the ‘don’t rules’.

 

Nuts.

 

I just say ‘nuts’ to that.speaking dreams

 

I have stood with hands in my pockets just stepping up to the microphone and delivered. No one cared I wasn’t using my hands.

Why?

Because they were listening to what I had to say. As a generalization … all the ‘how to present’ rules are stupid. If you have something good to say, and you say it in a compelling, believable, likeable way, the rest of the stuff just gets in the way. It’s all about the message. If you know, and like, your message just deliver it in as comfortable a ‘behavior’ style you want.

 

Nuts to all the book rules.

 

–          Forced passion

 

This one drives me nuts too. It’s kind of like speaking with exclamation points hoping the exclamation points travel through the ether between you and your audience and pricks them in the ass to make them stand up and yell “hell yeah!”

 

online megaphone listen speakSome people shout.

Some people create sentences which they purposefully amplify the end.

Some people shake a fist, or pound a table or make some ‘exclamatory’ gesture just so everyone knows they are passionate about whatever they are talking about.

Sometimes they don’t really want to do this shit but someone suggests “show them you are passionate” and … well … the wheels start to fall of the good presentation wagon.

 

Why?

It’s all forced.

 

And it’s a shame because most presenters are actually passionate about something related to their topic <assuming you do the three draft method – me, edit, reader – in that order>. And they don’t need to be overt to communicate it. They just need to share their passion in whatever way they exude it.

 

I have been extremely passionate on a topic … and all I did was talk. I said how she felt and what I believed. And you know what? People believed me. they may not have been persuaded … but they believed what I had to say.

 

Here is the bottom line. If you care, it will show. You need not tell someone you are passionate. In fact … here you go … a rule.

Never say in a presentation, meeting or discussion … “I am passionate about ‘x’.”

Prove it without ever saying it.

 

 

–          Forced relevance <or forced theme>

 

I almost split this into two but they are just two sides of the same coin. In an attempt to make their topic relevant to either the audience or the environment <you can choose either> a presenter can go to some fairly absurd lengths.presentation asleep

 

They can use a joke which isn’t really relevant until you explain why.

 

Well, let me say this, 99% of the time if you are using a joke or come up with some forced relevance it means you are working too hard. Go back to the simple first aspect and think about what it is you want to say. If it isn’t compelling or understandable, a joke or forced metaphor or forced semi-topical linkage isn’t going to help.

 

In fact it can hurt.

 

How?

 

Because it is extraneous. And extraneous things and activity tugs the audience away from what you really want them to remember and say. I don’t usually get aggravated over this one instead I just get frustrated that the speaker doesn’t trust the topic is interesting enough, and it can be presented interestingly enough, to simply present it.

 

Lastly.

 

If I want to connect with the reader/listener with my last draft I have to put the screws down on the persuasion aspect.

And I would suggest you think about this slightly differently than many people talk about it – think about the fact what you are saying has to meet some price/value equation.

 

Simplistically … this is about alignment.

 

And, no, this isn’t about ‘first impressions’ because a presentation is a compilation/summary of impressions.

 

We all know this <but I will remind you anyway> … we are evaluating things all the time.

 

And even if we recognize that we are evaluating <like in viewing a presentation> we still don’t even recognize much of the evaluation that takes place because much of it is actually usually automatic, subconscious.

 

There has been a boatload of research done on evaluation which I will not bore you with … but will share a cliff notes summary of key points:

 

=====================

This process of evaluation can be broken down into the rising and falling of moment memory valuetwo perceptions:  Perceived Cost and Perceived Benefit.  To be clear, the cost of something is not just money.  Cost is the receipt of something negative or the release of something positive whereas Benefit is the release of something negative or the receipt of something positive.

Any time a value presentation is made, be it a candy bar in the checkout rack at a grocery store, a pair of earrings online, or a proposal to marry, there is an initial phase when you open your mind “file cabinet” and pull the “folder” associated with whatever value is being presented.  As you open this folder, certain things will jump out at you, influencing your initial perceived cost and benefit of the value presented.  What is in that folder, what items you pull first, and how much each item affects you depends on two things:

 

  1. Your history with the value presented

 

  1. How it is initially presented

 

It’s also important to note here that the point at which a visitor makes a commitment to the transaction is not the same point at which they complete the transaction.  The time between the commitment and the transaction should be as short and simple as possible.  The more complex and time-consuming it is, the more chance the frustration of the transaction process or the “cold feet” effect could keep it from happening.

==============

 

 

Look.

 

Like it or not … even our presentations are being evaluated through this wacky thing called heuristics.

Pricing/value cues abound within presentations … believability cues abound within presentations … persuasion cues abound within a presentation … and you have to be aware that they will scream at the top of their lungs even if you aren’t looking at them.

 

Why do I say that?

 

You can even be silent and be giving a price or value cue.

 

For example.

Bach was a master of ‘negative space’ … building masterful musical combinations … he also used silences that are as eloquent and thought provoking as notes, tempo and syncopation.

<I used Bach because I tend to believe most of us who have built a presentation kind of feel like a composer>.

 

By the way.

 

While you may be thinking I am only discussing big important presentations which have been rehearsed and rehearsed … but this discussion actually pertains to almost any size of any draft or communications.

 

In the end.

Value is kind of like … well … the world and life

 

In fact … it reminds me of something I read:

 

=================

“The world is not as simple as we like to make it out to be. The outlines are often vague and it’s the details that count.

Nothing is really truly black or white and bad can be a disguise for good or beauty … and vice versa without one necessarily excluding the other.

Someone can both love and betray the object of its love … without diminishing the reality of the true feelings and value.

Life and business <whether we like to admit it or not> is an uncertain adventure in a diffuse landscape whose borders are constantly shifting where all frontiers are artificial <therefore unique is basically artificial in its inevitable obseletion> where at any moment everything can either end only to begin again … or finish suddenly forever … like an unexpected blow from an axe.

Where the only absolute, coherent, indisputable and definitive reality … is death. We have such little time when you look at Life … a tiny lightning flash between two eternal nights.

Everything has to do with everything else.

Life is a succession of events that link with each other whether we want them to or not.”

——–

Arturo Perez Revarte

===============

res gestae value everything

 

 

That all may be too poetic in discussing something like giving presentations, communications, creating drafts and persuasion … but simply put … “everything has to do with everything else.”

 

Well.

 

 

Communicating is part of everything.

 

one of those dumb days where

June 13th, 2017

do nothing sloth impossible every day jo

==================

 

“We are dying from overthinking.

 

We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything.

Think. Think. Think.

 

You can never trust the human mind anyway.

It’s a death trap.”

 

Anthony Hopkins

 

======================

 

“It’s one of those dumb days where nothing’s really wrong but nothing’s really right either and the sky can’t even choose to be white or gray.”

 

Andrea Portes

 

=====================================

 

 

nothing neon sign

 

“Nothing” days.

 

 

Its hard to believe with all that shit we always seem to have to do and all the shit that seems to be happening around us and all the shit society, people and culture claims we are demanded to pay attention to … there can be nothing days.

The dumb days in which nothing happens <albeit lots of somethings actually happen>.

 

I think this is one of those things I didn’t think about until I actually thought about it — how can a day be nothing when you actually did a shitload?

 

Sure.

 

There are some people who get busy doing nothing <I actually call this ‘the art of looking busy’ and have a piece on his coming up>.

 

But the majority of us do a shitload of something on the days which we tend to i expect nothing still too muchview as having done nothing.

 

And I am not sure that is particularly healthy.

 

You can surely assess what you have done and apply some value less than what you wished you could assess … but even that “lesser value” is not zero, therefore, it is not nothing.

 

Personally I think this happens because the majority of us have a natural resistance to nothing. What I mean by that is being associated with “nothing”, particularly in a country that extols doing, creates some sense of diminishing or diminished.

 

And no one likes to feel either diminished or having whatever we actually did do be diminished to … well … nothing.

 

Anyway.

 

What that means is we will apologize for ‘nothing’ with a variety of reasons – distracted, bored, tired, etc. – because in the end our internal integrity compass wants to point toward something to make us happy.

In fact … someone created something called the Nothing Day which has been commemorated since 1973. The day is literally about doing nothing at all. There is absolutely no purpose or intended structure for this pointless celebration.

 

especially if its nothing days

 

My point isn’t that we should celebrate nothing or doing nothing or even the feeling we actually did nothing but rather that we see “nothing” where there really is something.

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

This is even making my head hurt.

 

Let me try this.

 

Far too often we fall into an all or nothing assessment with regard to our day. What that means is we could actually do a shitload but if it doesn’t meet some “something” standard it then falls to a 100% nothing value.

That is nuts.

 

==============

 

“Either I reigned supreme or sank into the abyss.”

 

Simone de Beauvoir

 

==============

 

And I can honestly say its nuts because I do it. I can reach the end of a day with a long list of shit I have done and sit back and say “shit, I did nothing.”

And I don’t think I am that different than a lot of people.

 

I could speculate why we do it but I will not.

 

Mostly it is because we think, think & think about the shit … and overthink it … and it is a death trap.

 

Mostly I think society & culture seems to put an extraordinary amount of value on tangible recognizable outcomes therefore if you just do shit … but the shit doesn’t offer some trophy outcome you can hold up for everyone to see than … well … we think we have nothing to show for it. That is also a death trap.

 

That’s dumb.something and nothing sign

 

Not only is that dumb it is the foundation for one of those dumb days where nothing’s really wrong but nothing’s really right either and the sky can’t even choose to be white or gray type feeling … which is a pretty dumb feeling to have.

 

All I can say is that the next time you think it is one of those dumb days where you did nothing … maybe stop overthinking and make it a simple thought — I did some shit today. I will do more shit tomorrow. And eventually some good shit will happen.

one of the saddest business things I have read in quite some time

May 5th, 2017

sad numbers hear listen business

==============

 

“Where there is little risk, there is little reward.”

 

Evel Knievel

============

 

 

 

So.

 

I don’t read Advertising Age often. I never really enjoyed reading ‘insider industry’ magazines and now that I am not involved with agencies that much it doesn’t mean much to me except an opportunity to catchup on the news of some people and places I know.

free-bad-advice-business-blog-contrarian

But today a link popped up in my email:

 

 

What’s the Most Risky Thing You’ve Done in Your Career?

Ad Age Asks Participants at Detroit Brand Summit

—-

 

I clicked on it.

 

I figured the advertising business, while often ground down to a nub by brand managers and clients who have an allergic reaction to risk, would offer some good ‘most risky actions I have taken‘ stories.

 

Here is a sampling:

 

 

biggest risk was undertaking Pepsi “refresh project,” a 2010 initiative by PepsiCo to award $20 million in grants to individuals, businesses and nonprofits that promote a new idea that has a positive impact on their community. “We took money off the Super Bowl, a property Pepsi had been on for almost a quarter century, and we put it into a different idea,”

 

 

Tylenol talking about product benefits and pain relief. His team, however, advocated toward making the message about feeling better with a nontraditional campaign including events.

 

 

single biggest gamble: “Leaving BBDO to go to The Abundancy, which was a little startup incubator that was trying to do things differently and reinvent how advertising worked,”

 

 

“It was a first-ever auto reveal with Snapchat,” Lenard said. “Together we answered a lot of questions internally about who is the audience of Snapchat: Aren’t they 12-year-olds who are never buying vehicles?”

 

——————–

 

Ok.

 

I worked in the advertising agency business for a long time … that is oh no embarrassedembarrassing.

 

If that is risk, let alone ‘biggest risk’, in today’s advertising world as outlined by some people who I assume are leaders in the industry … the industry is in a world of hurt.

 

As a business person I have always embraced the concept of risk … okay … calculated risk. No sane business person is flippant with risk.

All risk is assessed and calculated for ROR <return on risk> … as well as RODN <return on doing nothing>.

 

I could argue that between ROR and RODN you aren’t really taking any risks … you are simply doing what needs to be done to be successful.

 

That said.

I was sorely disappointed by how these people assess ‘biggest risk.’

 

Look.

 

avoid question bomb stink business problemsEveryone takes personal risks in business.

 

Not everyone takes business risks. And business risk is very different than personal risk … confusing the two, or even conflating the two, in a business environment is fraught with peril.

 

Yes.

Business risks inherently include personal risk … but personal risks don’t have particular consequences to a larger business risk – they are more your risks than anyone else’s.

 

I say that as a professional calculated business risk taker. I can honestly say that any time I ever assessed a business decision or what could be construed as a business risk I never took into consideration any persona risk I may be assuming. To me it would simply clutter what I would assume is a decision cluttered already with ‘what ifs’, ‘maybes’ and ‘uh ohs.’

 

I always believe business risks revolved around what is best for the business … and you let the chips fall as they may with regard to you personally.

 

Now.

 

Getting back to that sad list of ‘biggest risks.’

 

People can confuse risk with change. Change is change. Any change includes some risk because … well … it is change.

But change, in and of itself, is not necessarily originality. And that is where risk truly resides … in something original.

 

============

 

“Safe marketing is the riskiest marketing you can do.”

 

—-

Bill Bernbach

 

=============

 

organization business elephant adpat nimble get shit done

Anything original is never safe simply because it has no real record of behavior & consequences. That means you are modeling and researching and doing a whole bunch of good smart shit to insure it isn’t just a guess … but … sigh … it is just a guess.

 

That is risk. Risk is a … well … thing.

 

Originality is a real thing … a challenging thing … and a risky thing.

And to be truly original … in some ways … you must ignore what exists and what has been done before.

 

You must abandon the safe and secure.

 

Just think about this little factoid about pretty much any great original idea that has ever happened:

 

  • It’s effective

 

  • It’s always preceded by a meeting in which you will hear ‘are you nuts?’

 

Well.

 

Maybe we all need to be a little more nuts.

Maybe we all need to be a little less afraid of the different.

 

Maybe instead we should focus on what I believe almost all business people really do know … the new and untried can generate the bigger gains then simply changing the status quo or ‘what is’.

 

I would note that originality has a close relationship to exceptional.

 

Ah.

The root of that word exceptional?

 

Exception <please note … that is a significantly different word than acceptable … or safe …>.

 

We are comfortable in our cocoon of what is acceptable and sameness but it is making ‘an exception’ … taking that slightly risky step … that truly pays off.

 

used rainbowsIn business … if you have nothing to offer but used ideas, you are just a used car salesman.

 

And does anyone in business really want to be that?

 

<unless they are in the used car sales business of course>

 

And maybe that is why the article I read was one of the saddest business articles I have read in a very long time – there really wasn’t anything original or any monumental change. Some were personal risks and the business risks were more tweaks on existing machinery to fine tune the operation.

And maybe that is what the business world has come to <sadly> … a world in which tweaks constitute risks.

 

Sad. Very sad.

 

I know risk is difficult. But I also know it is much better than always doing the sure thing – always making the safe decision.

 

The problem is if you really want any progress or growth … meaningful progress and growth … risk cannot be avoided. You must seek ‘the exception.’

 

In the end.

 

I do think business needs to embrace a little more risk.

 

But to avoid being sad about what we do, maybe most importantly, I think business should stop calling tweaks risky. They are tweaks. They are attempts to make small big and the truly big too small.

 

And, lastly, maybe we need to start thinking more often “but it might just work.” I wrote about that phrase to make a point about how we, in business, are becoming far too hesitant to make changes.  There was nothing in the ‘biggest risk taken’ article that convinced me my point isn’t still valid. We embrace tweaks to avoid “but it might just work” actions.

 

 

“Biggest risk ever taken.”

road to success business graffiti

 

 

Shit.

 

These should be monumental type questions with monumental type responses.

 

And if you don’t have a monumental response maybe, just maybe, you need to look around what what you are doing and seeing of maybe you aren’t playing it too safe.

And, most of all, if you don’t have a monumental response, you should not try and make something small monumental.

 

Bigger risk deserves better than that.

Enlightened Conflict