/Observations/, ,

From a proposal I recently received from a freelance writer:

Full qualified and certified injury therapist practioner, have experience in report/document writing.

Was honoured when training for my top marks in knowlegde and presentation.

My layout are easy on the eye fro the read so as not scare them away sell what you reading to them.

All content will be original and fully checked for gramma and spelling errors.

if you have anymore question please contact me further

Kind Regards

Or this, from the same job (different writer):

I have been a writer for over 3 years. My topics and style varies. depending on the subject which are Copyscape-proofed.

These are pretty stark examples of incongruous messaging. The point of this post isn’t to point and laugh at poor writing (I’ll save that for you’re your Facebook). Rather, it’s to point out an overt example of off-brand messaging: the talk and the walk don’t match up. I think marketers fail in this way all the time.

Even me. I used to have an office in an industrial park. It was clean, simple, and (most importantly) cheap. Most of the business we were doing was with out-of-town clients, so it didn’t matter much. Until we started getting attention from bigger local clients. We’d go through the whole proposal process, up to the point the clients would come to our office. Every time, we’d loose the job after they visited our office. It wasn’t nice enough. Which seems silly, because the “niceness” of our office has no bearing on the quality of our work.

Except that my office was as off-brand as the proposals above. I was running a design studio. Our website was gorgeous. Our collateral was perfect. Our proposals were meticulously crafted. But our office? It screamed “whatever.” The office showed that we didn’t care about that aspect of our presentation. It was off-brand. And when you’re selling branding and aesthetics, those “superficial” things aren’t superficial anymore.

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We Start with the Most Noble of Intentions

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I kind of like failure. It teaches us important things, and it’s often more interesting to hear about a catastrophic failure than a brilliant success.

I really enjoyed Sean Hood’s answer to the question, “What’s it like to have your film flop at the box office?” The short of it is that like most endeavours, filmmaking is a group effort that suffers from conflict, frustration, exhaustion, and compromise.

And so while everyone intends to make a really fantastic product, something that they can be proud of, sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

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A short parable about illogical influence

/Observations/, ,


Below is my favourite short story about systems that encourage us to act irrationally. This actually happened, so it is completely true.

It was 2006, I think. The economy, especially in Edmonton, was booming. I was at a party as my wife’s guest, so I didn’t know a lot of people. The host had invited a few friends from her work in the accounting department of a large and well-known local business.

As is typical whenever people from work get together outside of work, they eventually started talking about work. These people hated their jobs. I listened to them complain about their horrible work environment for twenty minutes.

Then I interjected, “Things can’t be too bad there, if you all still work there.”

They paused for a moment, and one of the women turned to me and said: “You don’t understand how bad it is. It’s so bad that our job causes miscarriages. Okay? There have been like three miscarriages this year alone!” And off they went again, talking about how their employer kills unborn babies.

“So why don’t you leave?” I asked. “Everyone in this city—every employer—is dying to get people to work for them. Why don’t you just walk across the street and work there?”

They all shook their heads. “No, I couldn’t do that,” explained the woman. “You see, I took a continuing education course a few months ago, and [my employer] paid for it. If I left, I would have to pay them back for the course. It’s in my contract.”

“How much was the course?” I inquired.

“About $500,” she replied.

So, this woman was willing to work at a job that she hated, in an environment so stressful that it causes miscarriages, because she might have to pay back $500.

Setting aside the likelihood that the workplace is truly that bad (it only matters that employees perceive it to be horrible), it’s astounding that people would forgo legitimate employment alternatives because of that amount of money. It reminds me of indentured servitude—but for what is really a small sum, or at least an amount that could be overcome relatively easily, considering the ultimate prize of having a comfortable work environment.

Such notions seem to short-circuit all reasonable thought. They’re like optical illusions that work on a much grander scale; they create blind spots in our thinking.

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Networking using guilt

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costco

Today I bumped into an old business associate while shopping at Costco with my family. I haven’t seen or heard from him in over three years, though I still receive his weekly emails that I can’t seem to unsubscribe from.

Our conversation centered on three main points:

  1. He’s not busy.
  2. He wants to know if I have any work I could send his way.
  3. Maybe if I send him some work, he’ll reciprocate.

This would not build a strong business relationship! While relationships should be quid pro quo, it’s imperative that they’re genuine. Do you want work (or anything else) from me? Then take an interest in me. Put me in your debt. Be a nice person, genuinely. Make me like you.

Do not imply that if things don’t turn around for you soon, you’ll have to sell your house.

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