Monthly Archives: April 2014

How to Communicate like Hemingway


Last year I wrote a piece in Forbes on how to communicate like Hemingway. Here is my English summary of that article.

Ernest Hemingway (USA 1899 – 1961) wrote in simple sentences that carried great impact and significance. His paragraphs were succinct; writing precisely what was required without additional adjectives or flowery language. I think we can learn a great deal from Hemingway. We can learn to be better communicators in our profesional and personal lives.

Being a better writer, to me, means thinking about who is reading or will read our words. Who is your audience? Good writing means presenting something relevant – and perhaps even challenging – to your public: readers, users, clients, investors, followers, family, friends or community.

If we want to write like Hemingway, we need to choose our words. Here are a few things that I have picked up in Hemingway’s writing and how it can apply to us:

1) Hemingway tends to speak in the positive. Avoid double negatives or what we don’t do. Instead, talk about goals, about resources and talent, be frank with our public about how we can add value, how we can work together. Ask for the sale. Be transparent.

2) Hemingway wrote standing up. Supposedly, this was because he had a leg injury from WW1. But Hemingway once said “I like to write standing up because it brings vitality”. Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, and Donald Rumsfeld are other famous people who wrote standing up. The takeaway? Embrace idiosyncrasies in our writing or our style of writing because it makes us authentic.

3) Hemingway was “gritty”. He would often erase and rewrite sentences several times. He had a vision and was determined to see it through. I find it’s that same grit that makes entrepreneurs and leaders stand out. In Latin America, it’s often grit that gets us through the difficult moments or unexpected external factors that make our business or lives challenging.

Hemingway had an amazing talent for writing. If we put into practice some of what defines his writing – precise words, positive phrases, succinct well worked paragraphs that speak to our public and demonstrate our personality – we might be able to improve how our projects are perceived and received in Latin America and the world at large.

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Savvy Saturday April, 26th, 2014

Tell me and I forget; show me and I remember; involve me and I understand.
– Anonymous

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E-commerce in Latam – opportunities for innovation


The strongest markets for e-commerce in Latin America are, not surprisingly, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Peru. The facts and figures shown in US Media Consulting’s Latin Link blog substantiate the commonly held belief that Latam (Latin America) is an important and growing digital marketplace. You can read their excellent article here in Spanish or here in English.

“This is nothing new” you might say. Where’s the innovation in this? And I would say that this growing digital marketplace represents opportunities for innovation. Opportunities related to changing demographics and process needs (perfecting a pre-existing process, replacing a link that’s missing or weak) that ultimately create new ways to interact with your customers and create new ones.

And creating customers is what business in all about…

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Impressions and Imperfection


Malcolm Gladwell (author of David and Goliath, Outliers, The Tipping Point) said in an interview a few years ago that our impressions of people are usually more positive than reality. If we hear a deep velvety voice on the radio we tend to associate it with a “deep velvety” persona – whatever our interpretation of that may be. Has it ever happened to you that you have met a radio personality in person and there is a mismatch with what you imagined?

We choose information to fill in the blanks.

In business, we also choose information to fill in the blanks and our bias sometimes gives us a polarized impression of what a marketplace or a customer is about. We can never have perfect data and certainly there is value in shipping “less than perfect” because awaiting perfection might mean we miss out on the opportunity altogether.

Quotes like these make me smile and nod my head in agreement:

If you see a bandwagon, it’s too late. – James Goldsmith

If you are not embarrassed by the 1st version of your product, you’ve launched too late.– Reid Hoffman

So as entrepreneurs and business people we have to fill in the blanks in order to get our product or service out there, to get it into the hands of customers in new markets and to guess how it’s being purchased, used and talked about. Consulting firms, like Hipona Consulting, can help you with business intelligence and connections in the marketplace but there still will be gaps that have to be filled with assumptions, associations and creativity.

Now the flipside…

The question that might be interesting to consider is this: looking from the customer viewpoint is it more valuable for your brand to have more reality based impressions (based on information) or fill-in –the- blanks-imagination based impressions?

I would argue that it needs to be a beautiful mix of the two. That a company provides enough information to create customers and yet leaves a little to the imagination…


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Savvy Saturday April 12, 2014

“Los innovadores fijan su mirada hacia el futuro y la posibilidad de que mejores modelos existan.”

“Innovators fix their eye on the future and the possiblity that better models exist.”

Source: Esther Clark, “Modelos opuestos como fuente de innovación”, Insights Magazine, Edición 7, 2014.

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Why strategy, implementation and caring is so important

I came across this amazing video of Seth Godin’s over the weekend. It’s a great mix of classic Seth Godin (tribes, being “weird”, the entrepreneur/empresario) with doing business in a connected world. I found the following particularly interesting…

Godin describes the triangle of the connected world. We need Strategy, Implementation of Strategy as well as “Caring Enough to Fail” in order to create value, a following, and a company that matters. Oftentimes, our organizations get too big or too busy to question the status quo or care enough about experimenting and doing something that might fail. If we don’t care enough to fail how might we know what we are capable of and what our customers want and need?

In Latin America, I find organizations have a strategy and people to implement it but are set on what works rather than experimenting with failure ahead of the bell curve. How can we change this? Perhaps by leveraging connections and unexpected connections between things – and what is that? Innovation.

So this is the video that inspired me over the weekend to continue to tell meaningful stories to people who share (or will share) our views/concerns/needs. Let’s care enough to fail, be generous with ideas and…make them work through strategy and implementation.

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