Bullshitters Anonymous

by Apr 7, 2021Approach, Leadership, Strategy

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This is not a narrative but a bad company overview.

This is bullshit.

Unfortunately, it could be the “About” web page of any of a thousand companies in technology.

_____________________________________

I am sorry. I used to write a lot of bullshit like that.

In doing so, I’ve sabotaged many opportunities to have an impact. I missed chances to launch ideas successfully. When I founded businesses, my story didn’t resonate.

In my defense, I didn’t know. I realized I was doing it when someone helped me to admit it. The following was his intervention:

“This is what I find amazing about your skill with language. You are so adept with English — more so than most native speakers — that you can successfully write with the nuanced jargon of current American business. You’re very capable of using this sophisticated but ultimately annoying vocabulary yourself. I think that’s remarkable for someone who hasn’t been immersed in the language all your life. So please accept my congratulations, but also my sympathies. My advice is to get dumb.”

This is how I became aware, and awareness is the first step when you want to overcome an addiction.

Don’t bullshit if you want to get your story straight. Otherwise, you will waste an enormous amount of economic and human potential.

Here is where to start if you think that you have a writing problem.

Beware of the BS cocktail.

Bullshit is the norm in our business community. We constantly use the ingredients of the perfect bullshit cocktail, such as:

  • Long sentences and paragraphs
  • Meaningless jargon
  • Passive voice
  • Weasel words
  • Indirectness

Why? Because we are scared.

We assume that the bigger the words we use, the more people will accept our ideas because we sound smarter.

The opposite is true. I’ve written about this here.

With smaller words, you stand out because you come across as authentic.

Use the power of words.

One of the main reasons so many companies struggle to grow, attract the right talent or the right clients is that they don’t stick in people’s mind. They don’t stand out.

Differentiation happens through writing.

We think we can compensate if we have a shinier website, a cooler brand identity, more colors that pop. That’s such a dangerous myth.

As George Lois once said – My first commandment: The word comes first, then the visual.

Do the work.

Most business leaders, unfortunately, don’t sit and try to write their company narrative themselves. They usually wait for a writer to come up with the words.

Internal writers are sometimes limited by their position. As insiders, they can’t really call out BS for political reasons.

Freelance writers are sometimes limited by their fear of writing the truth, pushing your thinking and challenging you to a more direct voice. They’re concerned they’ll get fired.

So, this leaves us with… you.

Invest in becoming a better writer. This will transform you and your business.

  • Read a couple of business writing books.
  • Hire a good and, most importantly, blunt editor
  • Write what you mean, not the way you think people want you to write.

Email me if you want my resources and read one of my previous articles on this topic.

Get dumb.

Fortunately, my interventionist didn’t leave me without some pertinent advice.

He said:

“I suggest you try this: Close your eyes, and spin around three times while reciting this incantation: “I do not work for (insert your company name). I do not work for (insert your company name). I do not work for (insert your company name).” I think you will come away from that exercise refreshed and ready to try again with a more crisp narrative that even your dog would understand.”

Cheers!

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