I give you the courage to say what you mean

courageAfter two months on my own, I’ve finally figured out what I’m doing.

My purpose is to give you the courage to say what you mean.

I wasn’t sure what kinds of people my ideas would resonate with. I haven’t pushed consulting, because I wasn’t sure who needed a writing counselor obsessed with rooting out bullshit. Here’s who asked about my services.

  • A membership organization seeking a clearer way to describe itself.
  • An industry advocacy organization improving the way it presents its message in speeches.
  • A technology vendor creating materials that illuminate marketing techniques.
  • An environmental organization seeking clearer, more powerful descriptions on its web site.
  • A boutique travel services company that wants to clarify its differentiation.

I’d like to thank these companies. Even as I sought to help them, they helped me to clarify what I do. All of them had a soul. All of them had the will to find clearer ways to say what they meant. But all of them faced obstacles, like institutional baggage, history, and materials that had grown encrusted over time.

Turning to an outsider like me helped them find the courage to think differently about how they described themselves. A short, clear description led to clarity in their own self-image. And that made it far easier to actually say what they meant.

Words matter.

When a cable company seeking a merger says “With our larger reach, we will be able to accelerate the deployment of faster Internet speeds, state-of-the-art video experiences, and fully–featured voice products, at highly competitive prices,” it’s bullshit. They’re not trying to say what they mean, they’re trying to say what people want to hear. I can’t help them.

But when a few people in an organization seek the courage to actually say what they mean, they deserve support. Now I know that’s what I do.

Art: Freedom of Speech by Norman Rockwell, via U.S. National Archives and Records Administration and Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. Good article and thanks for sharing your message of “say what you mean.” However, a few of your bullet points above seem to highlight your point exactly. It’s almost like you’re trying to hide the “who” in the story. Are you?

  2. I found your blog quite by accident. I’m glad I did. I’m not good at reading between the lines but with your help I am starting to recognize some of the bullshit. You are helping me to speak and I hope to write more clearly. It’s nice to be able to avoid the bullshit.