Tag: quotes

Form or Function?

Form or Function? How about Form and Function?

The eternal fight between form and function. Between show and effectiveness. Between being followed by a herd with questionable loyalty, and walking with a small group with unwavering conviction in your vision.

Here’s a fancy looking video by HBX, Harvard‘s online programs platform. Professor Christensen undoubtedly sounds like someone I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to interact with and learn from. But the fact that even the likes of Harvard need movie-like videos to showcase the capabilities of a brilliant mind in order to sell a course, is a reflection of the superficial and attention-deficit times we live in.

Another rather painful habit is the one followed by the likes of Business Insider quite often. Apart from some very interesting articles, they also tend to hype the hell out of some random topic, using a catchy title and snippet. You’re tempted to click on it, only to find some absolutely boring or obvious view or reason about the story behind the title.

I for one, now actively avoid any such catchy but vague sounding snippet or title.

And then there are posts like Seth Godin‘s. No images, which, as per recent social media strategy “gurus”, would be nothing short of criminal. Experts will tell you how a picture is worth a thousand words. How a video would be so much more impactful. And some might even ask you to throw in a quote or two. And not just any quotes, but quotes quoted by..You! (what works better than bragging anyway, right?)

And while it is nothing short of an honour, when someone quotes you; there are few things as ridiculous as quoting yourself. Or asking your friends and industry colleagues to quote you. But that still goes on. So even if some of you can’t stop asking people to quote you, at least refrain from quoting yourself. That’s like walking up to your polling booth during election time, and asking for an option to vote yourself Prime Minister or President.

Coming back to Seth’s posts. They don’t have any images, and at barely 2-4 paragraphs, are far crisper and always impactful. Compare that with some standard blog analytics tools that give a red alert when you haven’t typed in a “minimum 300 words”. His posts are pure gold. They don’t need the crutches of pictures, videos, fancy or titillating titles or quotes or anything else to support them. They simply urge you to reflect, to question, and to improve.

And that’s what is lacking in the world today. We are becoming increasingly about cheaper, attention-grabbing tactics; and lesser about quality, long-term effectiveness.


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Brevity #3

In continuation with my interest in the importance of brevity in communication (to a greater extent in  written communication, and to some extent for verbal),  this post is made up of some interesting quotes on brevity that I came across.

The quotes are in blue. Now after you’ve read each quote, I urge you spend a moment to reflect upon it.

Your objective, with every email (unless it is written for a lover or for an old friend), should be such…

“It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

And in case you can’t, here’s your excuse for sending insanely long emails…

“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”
― Blaise Pascal, The Provincial Letters

Here’s the kind of time you need to prepare, before addressing an audience…

“If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.”
― Woodrow Wilson

Apart from the essence of preparation and importance of brevity, Thomas Woodrow Wilson very interestingly and brilliantly captured the 80:20 principle (Pareto’s) in the above quote.

Brevity #4

Now here’s a cheap shot at all the novels out there. Hollywood and Bollywood among others could get killed if a quote like this is taken seriously.

“A novel is just a story that hasn’t yet discovered a way to be brief.”
― George Saunders

Imagine the story-writer condensing his entire novel into a brief story of 5-6 sentences or less. The movie guys might wonder, “to hell with making the movie; after all, what would we put in it?”

And if you thought writing work emails is easy, well, here’s the effort that goes into it.

“Writing is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent elimination.”
― Louise Brooks

And finally, the funniest and coolest one.

“Be sincere, Be brief, Be seated.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Brevity #2

Now while I’ve been working on improving my email writing skills (mostly in my work emails) for some time now, I must admit that while it takes some effort to make all your content as concise as you possibly can, you must always be careful of not going to the other extreme, i.e. making the email so concise that the objective or purpose itself is lost.

If you liked this post, here’s one that you might find interesting too [So what’s your Point?]

brevity quotes

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