Why Grammar Matters

Oxford Comma
Oxford Comma

Recently a colleague posted in a business forum to say that one of her newsletter subscribers had unsubscribed, saying all the grammar mistakes were driving her crazy and she couldn’t stand reading them anymore. That customer may have had an especially strong response, but I have to tell you, it’s not uncommon. My colleague asked why she should worry about grammar, spelling, and even good writing when she knew her product was stellar. She went on to say that it was the potential customer’s loss, not hers and she wasn’t going to change a thing in the way she wrote her newsletters and blog posts. If the products and services you offer are top notch, why should it matter if your blog posts have grammar and spelling mistakes in them? Quite simply, because it matters to your customers, even if they aren’t grammar experts themselves. A well written blog post or newsletter tells your customers you care about detail and how your brand is communicated.

It doesn't mean you have to write as well as Joan Didion or Anne Lamott, but it does mean that you pay attention to detail, proofread, and make sure your copy is clean and presentable. Use the web to help you out - there are tons of resources that you can use when unsure about the use of a particular word or when to use a comma or a semi-colon. 

If you decide you simply do not have the time to put into producing clean, concise, and almost-error free written communications, but you still want to deliver it to your customers, it is worth investing the time and money to find a partner who can do the writing for you, in your voice. It is not worth losing customers because your bad copy paints your amazing products with a dark and ugly stain of unprofessionalism. Of course I'd love it if you let me help you tell your story, but what I love even more is a story well told, no matter who is actually writing the words. That's what keeps me engaged with service professionals and products I love and what keeps me coming back for more.

If you really love this topic and want to dig in more, I really love this site for writing tips and advice. It's not beautiful, but it's got some great content. Check it out.

How to translate your dream superpower into an everyday skill that tells people exactly who you are

Happy Unicorn
Happy Unicorn

Working solely on my own over the last year or so has given me the time to think really deeply about my strengths, how I like to work, how I don't like to work, the kinds of people I like to work with, and the kind of work I love doing. I mean the kind of work that I love to do so much I lose total track of time, just as we all did when we were children and doing one of our favourite activities. As a result, I've been delving deep into my top skills and read a lot of career advice. One of the most useful, where I had a real a-ha moment, was a piece onThe Muse. The author posits that all successful people have an immediate answer to one question: If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be? The article goes on to give the answers some successful entrepreneurs had to the question: curiosity, doggedness, enthusiasm.  Those are all great, but are they really superpowers? At first I felt like the title of the article was a little click-bait-y. I mean, the examples it gave aren't really superhero powers like invisibility or flying or hands that shoot spiderwebs. And my superpower, the one I've wanted since I was a small child? It didn't fit so smoothly into the author's assertion that "knowing your superpower means you know yourself well enough to have a focus."

I have a hard time believing that most people would give the kinds of examples the author cites when answering the question. I think most people would give actual superhero powers - superhuman strength, teleportation, mind-reading. It's still a very useful question, though. The trick is understanding why you want the superpower you do.

I've always wanted to be able to instantly understand and speak any language with native fluency. That would be my superpower. I can't realistically claim that superpower, or even create it with a lot of work (even with languages disappearing, there are still a lot of languages spoken in the world!). So how does my dream superpower help me know what my real-life superpower is? I sat and thought about this after I read the article, and landed on asking myself why I want this particular superpower.

Here's where I had my a-ha moment. At its core, my dream superpower is about communication. I want to be able to communicate with anyone, to understand what they're saying and to have them understand what I'm saying in return. I'm a super communicator, it's what I do best, whether it's teaching, giving a public presentation, or writing a research report or blog post. Our dream superpower say a lot about who we are and what our biggest strengths may be, even if we might want Wolverine's retractable Adamantium claws. You just have to deconstruct the superpower and delve into why you want it. So what's your dream superpower and how can you translate it into a real-life quality that makes you unique and stand out from the crowd?