Tag Archives: copyblogger

7 Bad Habits That Aren’t, plus a Great Title That Is

Here’s a great title: The 7 Bad Habits of Insanely Productive People. That was on copyblogger last week, posted by Sonia Simone, one of the nicest plays on contradiction and irony I’ve seen a while. There’s some real truth here, but hidden in paradox, and a lot of humor too. Who wants bad habits? You have to read the post to see. 

For example, in her intro, musing on productivity advice …

And the truth is, I’ve gotten a lot out of productivity advice. If it weren’t for David Allen and Tony Schwartz, my life would consist of eating cupcakes and checking Netflix to see if there’s a new Phineas & Ferb out.

And all those bad habits? How does this sound:

  1. Being thin-skinned
  2. Flakiness
  3. Selfishness
  4. Greed
  5. Distractibility
  6. Self doubt
  7. Arrogance

Not so attractive at all, right? Except that Simone uses each of these to get your attention. Then she tears them back down.

For example, thin-skinned … 

Most of the successful people I know are sensitive and perceptive. And yes, when they get criticized, they feel like shit. Do they let trolls and whiners stop them from doing something great? No. But it’s not because they don’t feel the insults … it’s because their passion for what they do is stronger than the discomfort.

And on flakiness …

The truth is, if you’re building something epic, you’re going to be juggling a lot of pieces. They don’t always go together neatly. Sometimes they don’t go together at all. If you’re stretching yourself, you’ll drop the ball sometimes. Try to figure out the circumstances in which you should never let yourself drop the ball, Make sure the “A” tasks get done.
Do your best, and say sorry when you screw up. But don’t stop just because things get messy. 

So you see how that goes, right? Selfishness has to do with drawing lines and setting priorities, greed is motivating, and distractibility is creativity. I like this quote:

Creativity is the residue of time wasted.
~Albert Einstein

And this one too, under self doubt:

Jim Collins showed nicely in his book Great by Choice that one marker of a business leader who succeeds over time is what Collins calls “productive paranoia.”

And finally, concluding my post on Sonia’s post, a final thought from bad habit #7, arrogance:

for your project to become truly epic — to help an epic number of people — you’re going to have to get out there and talk it up. Which will make some people uncomfortable. 

That’s just a quick summary. Read the post. 

5 Good Quick Reads for Small Business Owners

These are some posts I noticed during the week. I keep track of them because I intend to do a post of my own on the same thing, but sometimes it’s better to just highlight them and share. These all seem useful to the small business owner and entrepreneur.

  1. Six Companies That Did Not Survive 2010 on NYTimes.com is a great collection of quick but still very useful summaries of failures.Who they were, what they did, and what happened.
  2. How to turn dating agony into sales success, by Pamela Slim, on Copyblogger. Don’t you love that title? I’m a big fan of Pam’s work, this one is longer than most blog posts but also rich in practical suggestions and thoughtful and well worth the extra length. Good for one-person entrepreneurs and small company owners alike.
  3. How to fire an employee the right way, by Shira Levine, on Amex OPEN. Somebody told me the other day that she was good at firing people, and I was amazed. Can anybody be good at that? Hence, this post.
  4. The 5 things you need to do before approaching investors, by Eileen Gunn on entrepreneur.com.
  5. The Top 50 Blogs for Small Business Owners is a pretty good list, and I’d say that even if it didn’t include this one.

(Image: Kotomiti/Shutterstock)

You Aren’t Really Multitasking and 99 Other Surprises

The things you find on the web: going from one thing to another, you click, you stumble on stuff, I have to say, I love it. Yesterday I found Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D. in Psychology, who has a fascinating series called 100 Things You Should Know About People. That’s on a blog I found called What Makes Them Click.

For example, her #7, You actually can’t multi-task:

The research shows that people can attend to only one cognitive task at a time. You can only be thinking about one thing at a time. You can only be conducting one mental activity at a time. So you can be talking or you can be reading. You can be reading or you can be typing. You can be listening or you can be reading. One thing at a time.

She finds one exception:

The only exception that the research has uncovered is that if you are doing a physical task that you have done very very often and you are very good at, then you can do that physical task while you are doing a mental task. So if you are an adult and you have learned to walk then you can walk and talk at the same time.

But even there, she has doubts related to walking and talking on a cell phone. And then she attacks the common assumption that the millennial generation does multi-task while the rest of us don’t, with research from Stanford to back her up.

It’s all very interesting. And I found it reading 7 ways to improve your writing, by the so-called James Chartrand, on CopyBlogger. She (yes, James is a woman, but that’s another story) used one of Susan’s surprises to talk about ideal line length. I love the web. Maybe that jumping around isn’t multi-tasking, but it is multi-interesting. And kind of fun.

(Image credit: ifong/Shutterstock)

What, Me Listen, Errr, Do I Have To?

I liked Sonia Simone’s refreshingly put The Surprising Old-School Secret to Blogging Success on Copyblogger yesterday. She’s talking about blogging, specifically, but the lesson applies all over the new world. I liked it when she starts with this…

About 80% of your blog’s success comes from “ass in chair” time. That’s the time you spend writing posts, editing posts, finding the perfect image, connecting with fellow bloggers, answering comments, and shaping up your SEO…

… because that’s my style. I don’t mind working long hours, particularly doing stuff I like, such as —  on the good days —  writing stuff on this blog. Give me a keyboard and an empty room and I’m happy to be the life of the hypothetical not-really-there party.

But real people, in real conversation? I don’t like it when Sonia reveals her hidden message:

Believe it or not, you can actually replicate this phenomenon by physically locating yourself in close proximity to another person, with each of you taking turns speaking. This is called a conversation.

Ugh. Where’s my keyboard? And, to make it worse, she rubs salt on that wound with this:

Spend enough time in these “real world” conversations, and you actually trigger the growth of new neural connections. You come up with new ideas. You challenge your existing ideas and take them in new directions. You learn.

This phenomenon is improved by another old-school technique, called listening. It’s like lurking, except the other person can see you standing there, so at some point you should probably say something.

I have to admit, I liked it better when success was 90% just showing up. I’m good at showing up. But listening? You’re asking a lot.

One of the funniest – and, like it or not – truest pieces I’ve read lately was Call Me! But Not on Skype or Any Other Videophone in Time Magazine a few weeks ago (and, happily, also posted online, which is why I linked to it here). Joel Stein nails it on what’s wrong with Skype: you have to pay attention to the other person. He says:

Skype breaks the century-old social contract of the phone: we pay close attention while we’re talking and zone out while you are.

As soon as you begin to talk, I feel trapped and desperately scan the room for tasks I can do to justify the enormous waste of time that is your talking.

How embarrassingly true that is. And now we have experts on Copyblogger, one of the best blogs about blogging, telling us the secret to blogging success might be actual real conversations with live people instead of keyboards. And listening?

Brave new world? Maybe not. Maybe just that same old world, but with more people than ever.

Why Men With Pens is Written by a Woman. And Why That Matters.

Honestly, except for the name itself, I’ve never cared or wondered whether the author of Men With Pens was man or woman. It’s a good blog for writers. I did assume man, of course, because of the name of the blog, and the byline. This isn’t something I think about.

But I was shocked to read Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants as a post in CopyBlogger yesterday. It turns out that James Chartrand, author of the Men With Pens blog, @menwithpens on Twitter, is a woman, not a man.

Why do I care? I don’t care that she’s a woman and not a man. It makes no difference to the value of the content.  But I do care about the story she (James Chartrand) tells, and why she uses a man’s name.

Taking a man’s name opened up a new world. It helped me earn double and triple the income of my true name, with the same work and service.

No hassles. Higher acceptance. And gratifying respect for my talents and round-the-clock work ethic.

Business opportunities fell into my lap. People asked for my advice, and they thanked me for it, too.

Did I quit promoting my own name? Hell yeah.

I do believe that the difference between genders is the most interesting thing in creation. But I don’t believe in gender differences in jobs or opportunity and particularly not in writing. My favorite bloggers are about half and half, men and women. I just want the posts to be useful, interesting, amusing, and good. I’m as likely to read Pamela Slim or Anita Campbell as I am to read Seth Godin or John Jantsch. I like to think the world has come a long way since I was born in 1948. That the chauvinism we took for granted without even thinking about it in the 1950s and 1960s has given way to a better, more equal world.

Maybe so; but “more equal” isn’t the same as “equal.” Damn. Ask James Chartrand about that.

Everybody should read Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants. And everybody who cares about writing and blogging should subscribe to her blog – not because of her gender, or her surprising revelation about gender disguised, but, rather, because it’s got a lot of good content.

Want to Write Well? Cut Mercilessly

Back in my distant past I had to learn to live with editing. I was in my twenties. It made me mad. Why change my stuff? But it also made my stuff better.

“Berry, you write like a God-damned literature major.” (Norberto Schwarzman)

So said the overnight editor at UPI back in 1972.  He did me a great favor. “Write for the reader,” he would say, way more often than I would have liked. 

By the late 70s I was writing for a Business Week editor (Hugh Menzies) who consistently cut the shreds out of my writing, and, dammit, every time he did he made it better. I sent my stories to him for about four years. And I learned that cutting was good.

I’ve been writing professionally for 30-some years now, and I’ve never written anything that wasn’t better after cutting. So I’ve come to love cutting.

If you want to read some really good advice about this, read Editing for Tighter Copy: How to Write with a Knife on Copyblogger yesterday. And if you want to write better, print it and paste it on your wall.