Define your terms

John A. Toomey was my ancient history professor at Bard College. He assigned a paper every week. Most of his students thought that was a lot, but as a writer, I didn’t mind, and as someone who was learning to think, it was invaluable. One of the things he pounded into his students was this: Define your terms These days, we casually …

Setting yourself up: failure or success

A week or so ago, I posted this on Facebook: If you know how to set yourself up for failure (and most of us do!), then you also know how to set yourself up for success. In answering the many comments this inspired, I noticed how much the idea surprised people. (It certainly surprised me when I first noticed!) And I …

Taking back “success”

If we don’t define success for ourselves, it will be defined for us. Family, friends, colleagues, our culture and society – our environment. They’ll define it for us, and probably in ways we won’t find easy to live with. When the definition of success feels wrong – too difficult, too busy, too overwhelming, too heavy, too materialistic, or whatever it may …

The view from now

I heard a story on NPR the other day about how the title “president” was chosen for the leader of the United States. It seems that the House of Representatives was concerned to keep the holder of this position from getting too impressed with himself. (I say “himself” since at that time, of course, there was no inkling that we …

Sustainable or endurable?

What does it mean to have a sustainable business? I don’t mean sustainable in the environmental sense. I certainly support environmental sustainability, but I’m thinking about something closer to home, closer to our day-to-day experience of being in business. Personally sustainable. A business that gives us the time and space we need to enjoy our work and also our friends, …

The perils of “how”

Everyone does it. (No, not that. Let’s have a little decorum here, please.) In over 25 years in corporate America, working on  systems analysis, business analysis, and system design, I never saw anyone not do it. And in all my years of self-employment since, I continue to see people doing it. Clients, colleagues, friends … and even myself, every now and then, …

Is using jargon really all that bad?

Jargon is everywhere.  We all use it. In and of itself, jargon isn’t necessarily bad.  But it can go horribly wrong.  We’ve all seen websites that read as if they were assembled from a grab-bag of catch-phrases, clichés, and other jargon-y expressions.  And I’d be willing to bet that we’ve all experienced moments where we felt safer hiding behind jargon instead of putting our …

How to use symbols to create clarity and understanding

“Do you really believe in that sort of thing?”  my friend asked, looking at me with an odd expression. I’d just told her about a gift I’d bought for myself:  a tarot reading by someone who consistently gets rave reviews from people whose opinions I trust and value.  And I could tell she was trying not to offend me with her opinion of …

Is it hard, or is it scary?

It seems like every article and marketing email coming into my in-box these days is playing some variant of the “it’s so hard” song. Whether they’re harping on how hard it is to do some specific thing, or how hard it is to focus on doing anything at all, it seems like “it’s hard” is the current Hot Marketing Trend. I don’t buy …