Short and sweet: The value of brevity

short and sweet

In today’s modern world much has changed in the way of how we get and internalize our information.  With so much new technology constantly coming out that makes it easier and faster to get information, we are oversaturated. We are constantly hit with a barrage of information about absolutely anything and everything.  It has changed many things around us as well as how we go about getting and ingesting our information. Twitter has become the monument to our shortened attention spans created by this information overload.  Its platform that makes you get your message down to 140 characters can teach you some valuable lessons about elevator pitches and messaging in this social media era.

  1. There is so much content available now that if you can’t get your message across in the first sentence or even the first 140 characters people may not read further.
  2. The act of focusing down your message into 140 characters forces you to filter out all the extraneous information and focus on what’s really important
  3. Most of us learned the wrong message in college.  That lesson being, if you said enough stuff the teacher would take it and think you put enough work into it and give you the grade.  That’s not how the modern world works. People want their information quickly, easily, and most importantly, concisely.
  4. Twitter itself has made 140 character messaging a must for most organizations. Most organizations need to be able to communicate on that platform and others like Vine, Tumblr, and blogs etc. that reward those that are able to be both concise and informative to be successful.
  5. People don’t have time to read the whole novel.  Give them the Cliffs notes.  They’ll appreciate and love you for it
  6. You get 90 seconds in an elevator pitch and most peoples decisions are made on that basis.  In the new social media world a lot of research has shown that most people never make it past the first 7 seconds of a YouTube video.  This just illustrates that the quicker you entice the better.
  7. Who reads your next email may very well be dependent on how good your subject line is.  Great subject lines need to capture an audience and intrigue in just a few words.
  8. If it’s a really good idea, you ought to be able to get it across in a few seconds. If you can’t, you’re going to have trouble getting the eyes, ears, and attention of today’s overexposed, information overloaded, and harried content consumers.

These are just a few reasons I believe brevity is a virtue that is becoming more and more valuable in today’s world.  As always I’m curious what other people think.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

3 Common characteristics of successful people

Success

I certainly don’t claim to be a scientist or somebody who has an incredibly nuanced opinion of nature vs. nurture but there are certainly a lot of folks on the market right now that talk about what motivates people. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us is a great example, by Daniel Pink. There’s another book I loved about what engages people to work hard to move forward in their lives. There’s also another great book called “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell about what it takes to master things. I’ve been around enough successful people, not just in the sense of people that you might’ve read about in newspapers or magazines, but everyday people that have been able to achieve things that maybe they hadn’t had formal training in otherwise. They would look to be unprepared to do something yet you watch them succeed and I think that they all encompass the same essentially three characteristics that jump out at you.

  1. The first characteristic I’d like to discuss is dogged determination to succeed. It’s amazing how much learning something new or anything else, just depends on simply sticking with it. I’ve watched people teach themselves some pretty complicated things in a pretty compressed time period just on the basis of knowing it had to be done and figuring it out. I think there’s just a mindset there around that level of determination that if you put it in your head that you’re simply not going to fail, you’re a lot more likely to succeed.
  2. The second thing is a willingness to work with others, communicate, explore new avenues, and do what it takes to reach success.  That’s another one where I’m always impressed when you see someone who is willing to ask questions. I think sometimes, and I know that I’m as guilty of this as anyone, that you can be hesitant to ask something because you don’t want to look dumb, expose a weakness or lack of knowledge, and have somebody think that you’re not as smart as they thought. That is a path to not growing.  I think you have to be willing to show your weaknesses in order to improve.  If you consistently play to your strengths you’re locking yourself out of a lot of growth opportunities.  When you’re forced or put in a position where you absolutely have to learn something new or develop a new skill, it becomes really hard if you cut yourself off from one of the primary avenues of succeeding. By that I mean finding other people who have done it before you that can help you.  I think that this second factor is huge in attaining success; finding avenues for communicating with folks who have done it before you, asking questions, and being willing to look a little bit silly on the path to understanding what you need to do.
  3. Finally the third thing should come as no secret, and that is you have to be willing to put in the work.  It’s really hard to be successful at something new if you constrain yourself to just the time you put into the everyday things that you already know how to do.  When you’re trying to transition into a new skill set, learn something, and apply something in a short period of time, if you’re not willing to put in some extra work and some extra time I don’t think you can get there.  There’s a lot to be said about work/life balance and maintaining a perspective of what you’re trying to achieve in the context of who you are as a person but sometimes you need to spring  a little in order to get things situated in your mind in a way that you can use it on a daily basis. There’s absolutely nothing like immersing yourself in something for a few days or weeks to overcome some of the hurdles you would otherwise have in learning or figuring out how to do something new.

So I think those three things are kind of common sense qualities needed for success. Time and time again I see people that are teammates, people that I work with, and people that work for me who are succeeding and the common ingredients that they all share are the ones I mentioned above.  Now again, I know that they seem to be common sense but they are not always applied. The people that are frustrated and saying, “I’m not really picking this up,” or “I’m really struggling to understand this,” and you watch what they’re doing; it should come as no surprise that they’re not working as hard as the people that are able to pick something up. They’re not asking the right questions of the right people.

Now while I think there’s a lot to be said for being able to ask for help and being able to reach out to people, there’s a balance that needs to be struck there. You need to push through and make your own breakthroughs sometimes so you can really own the material or the skill whatever it is rather than simply having someone else do it for you because they’re better at it.  I’m curious what other people have seen and what other people believe are the short list to succeeding at those sorts of things.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.