Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rereading David Ogilvy's How To's on Communication

Yesterday I had lunch with Ben Hardy, a thinker who designs courses for and teaches both in Cambridge's Executive Education programme and at the Open University in leadership, organisational behavior, change management, HR, and other essential areas necessary to know if you run a business.

He reminded me of David Ogilvy's rules of communication.  I hadn't forgot, but they're also useful to reread.  If you haven't seen them before, then definitely take a look:

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.

Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.

Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing*. Read it three times.

2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.

3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.

4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.

5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.

6. Check your quotations.

7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning—and then edit it.

8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.

9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.

10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pitching as an Exercise in Remembering

Pitches are not just for the client, the investor, or any other particular audience.  One excellent requirement of an effective call to action is that you must remember why you care about what you do.  Credibility in your delivery depends on it.

Human beings are creatures of habit, and habit tends to diminish our emotional investment into inertia.  To make up for a lack of energy, we as business people can lean too heavily on jargon, tag lines, and exclamation points to communicate.  Then we all sound like each other to differentiate what makes our product or service remarkable.

One resource that can keep us awake is curiosity.  Sustainable curiosity would make every conversation new, all by itself.  What do you think?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bristol Pound Notes: Doug Rushkoff Redux

Doug Rushkoff, hero of urging consumers to become producers and to use local currency, would be proud today of the new Bristol Pound Notes.

People lined up around the block last night to trade their GBP for the new currency only to be spent in independent shops in Bristol.

Will people only collect them?  Will they take off?  Watch this space.

Here's some more on Doug Rushkoff's notion of fiduciary responsibility.

What do you do with a PhD? Start a Company.

If you're interested in seeing the process by which tech and science researchers are becoming entrepreneurs at Queen Mary, please see Queen Mary College's Report on the day at Hackney House.

If you scroll down, there's a section on the pitch workshop I led, in addition to much other useful information and helpful links.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Busy, busy busy: UCL, Queen Mary, and More

I've been working with UCL SMILE Programme, Queen Mary, and UKTI Tech City lately (among others) and am happy to report that entrepreneurship is in rather wonderful shape in London.

Although with specialised incubator programmes like Springboard young companies have always been impressive, the calibre of companies has improved exponentially since last year in open enrollment classes. 

Here's something, too, coming up for all you younger folk who want to try your hand.  I'll be doing the pitch training, and I very much look forward to meeting you.

The 2012 Young Entrepreneurs Festival, organised by The Tech City Investment Organisation, in partnership with the Creative Pioneers Can-Start programme of the IPA and Metro, and supported by ad:tech London, brings together 150 of the brightest aspiring young entrepreneurs to compete for a chance to pitch to angel investors and potentially raise seed funding for their business idea.

For 2 days before the final, the contenders (in 2 age groups, 16-24 and 25+), will have been judged and supported by dozens of mentors, successful entrepreneurs, experienced business people, creatives and technologists, giving their time and expertise completely free of charge in order to help aspiring talent achieve greater potential. On Day 1, the 150 young entrepreneurs are whittled down to the best 50%, who advance through to Day 2. After more intensive support, coaching and scrutiny, at the end of day two, the top 10 will be announced.

Each of the 10 finalists has 3-5 minutes to present to the audience at Ad:Tech on Day 3, which will include a number of specially invited angel investors. There will be a judging panel. After hearing all 10 pitches, the top 3 and overall winner of the contest will be announced, and there will be prizes of generously donated business support.