True confession: I will do almost anything to avoid writing.

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Today is a typical day. Before sitting down to write this short post, I managed to procrastinate by achieving the following tasks, which suddenly pressed themselves upon me as undeniably urgent: hung up a load of wet laundry, paid a Fiverr invoice, inflated an exercise ball I ordered from Amazon three weeks ago, made a pot of tea, listened to a Marie Forleo podcast, ordered a desk lamp from Ikea (because if my writing desk were better lit, I would be more productive), made a note to buy a birthd…

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How do I create a professional tone in my writing without sounding too formal?

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To answer this question, we first need to understand what “tone” means when it applies to a piece of writing,

Your writing tone is your attitude toward both your reader and your subject. Many writers mishandle tone in business writing because they think about their relationship to just one of these elements. This tends to happen when the subject is deemed so serious that it’s more important than the reader.

But here’s the key thing to remember: in a business context, nothing is ever more impor…

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In business writing, gratitude is more than a platitude

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Coaches preach it, counsellors teach it, yogis reach for it. The practice of gratitude creates such potent benefits that it has spawned whole product lines of journals, home décor items, and corporate training programs.

Gratitude, you might say, is the grease that lubricates our day-to-day activities. When you’re grateful for your child, you can change their diaper without holding your nose. When you’re grateful for clean, fresh-smelling clothes, doing laundry becomes a pleasant ritual rather t…

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Is your writing running on empty?

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My husband recently gave me one of the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever received, a Waterman fountain pen with a body satin-finished in two shades of jade green.

Just holding this gorgeous instrument elevates my daily journaling. I may just be scribbling in my pj’s, but the pen makes the activity feel special. 

Each morning now begins with a micro ritual: I slide the pen from its case (where it rests like a sacred object), smoothly open a page in my journal, and take a slow sip of water.  Then I…

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Why Outsourcing Messaging is the Wrong Paradigm for Chrysalis Companies

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Some startups grow up to be unicorns, but before that, in the early phases, all of them are butterflies—fragile, beautiful business concepts. As Stephen Blank so eloquently puts it, “A startup is not a smaller version of a large company. A startup is a temporary organization in search of a scalable, repeatable, profitable business model.” (The Startup Owner’s Manual)

When my daughter was in Grade Two, her classroom featured a butterfly incubator. For weeks, she and the other children watched ea…

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Three Takes on Why It Pays to Wrestle With Your Messaging

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What do Madonna, a leading expert on growing your business, and a Roman Catholic theologian all have in common? To use Madonna’s words, they all believe in the mantra “Express yourself.”

Self-expression isn’t just about letting your “true colors” show in a gushy, Cyndi Lauperish kind of way. Both pragmatists and philosophers consider it a practical, essential element of human success and happiness. And if your business isn’t allowing you to achieve it, then why are you in business?

That’s a to…

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Five Writing Rules that Deserve to Be Broken

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Being a parent teaches you a few things about psychology. One of them is this: telling a child NOT to do something is the surest way to get the behavior you don’t want. When my children were toddlers, I learned early on that saying “Don’t run!” would send my son darting off and that saying “Don’t yell!” would instantly turn up the volume.

I guess I never outgrew my terrible twos because I want to scream whenever someone tells me about a writing rule they think they must follow. By the same toke…

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Do you hate writing as much as I hate exercising?

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A young engineer recently confessed to me, “I hate writing. I’d rather get my fingernails pulled out.”

I get it because I feel the same way about exercising. But I’m five-foot-two with a chocolate habit and an underactive thyroid, so I don’t really have a choice. I have to get off my duff for a brisk walk at least five days a week or pay the pudge penalty.

A couple of days ago, however, I dragged myself out for my usual afternoon walk and unexpectedly found myself jogging along, just for the j…

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Cover Letter Lessons From Hollywood

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Partway through the workshop on “Cover Letters That Make You Stand Out,” a comment in the chat window stopped me in my tracks: “There’s so much more to it than writing a cover letter.”

“It” in this case referred to the challenge of finding a job. And the chat comment grabbed my attention because it captured in a nutshell the reason so many cover letters flop: most job seekers expect the cover letter to do too much.

There certainly is much, much more to landing a job than merely writing a cover…

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Why “new” is seldom your strongest selling point

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One definition of innovator might be “someone who’s in love with the new.”

When you see the world through innovator eyes, you see the potential to do things differently. While everyone around you thinks things are running along just fine, you see how they could be running so much better—whether “better” means quicker, leaner, cleaner, brighter, or just newer.

Your visionary capacity sets you apart from the pack. However, it also creates a divide between you and your customers.

Most innovators…

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