Tag Archives: relevance

How to Communicate like Hemingway

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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Complexity and Education in Latin America

Last month I submitted an idea to the Inter American Development Bank on how to get students more “engaged” with education in Latin America. It’s my response to a troubling problem: nearly 1 out of every 2 young people in Latin America does not finish high school. You can find my idea to the IDB “Graduate XXI” competition here in English or in Spanish (choose Spanish option at top of page).

For me, education is the basis for building better societies, communities and businesses. It’s the foundation for us to convert our ideas into reality.

Would love to get your feedback as I have another interesting idea on designing a better education system which I will share with you soon!

EMC

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The Best Idea Wins

raised hand
Photo courtesy http://www.sincerelyjules.com

Today’s post is about an article of mine published in Forbes in Spanish a couple months’ ago. You can find the article here. I have pasted it below for reference.

For those English speakers following my blog, here is a summary of what the article is about and how I came to write it.

I was watching a presentation by Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, PayPal and Spacex. He was talking to a group at Stanford University on entrepreneurship and the business of making ideas work. During his one hour presentation he talked about how his management style is founded on “the best idea wins”. I love that expression because it shows how the idea – rather than the trappings, title or position of a person – is what is important in building relevant and innovative businesses.

The resulting article (below) talks about how we need to focus on the value of the idea; how assets are finite but the value of assets is infinite. I also quote Bernadette Jiwa, author of The Fortune Cookie Principle and blogger of Storyoftelling.com, when she says “what we are interested in the fortune – not the fortune cookie itself.” As human beings, we are seeking the intangible that is suggested by a brand and not necessarily the tangible elements that get “pushed” by traditional advertising.

That’s why ideas are so important. Although they are intangible and potentially question the status quo, they can be the difference between a successful and a mediocre or failed venture.

EMC

“La mejor idea gana”
Por Esther Clark
Forbes Mexico

Hace algunos años Elon Musk, el fundador de PayPal, de SpaceX y de Tesla Motors, habló de su trayectoria empresarial por casi una hora en la Universidad de Stanford, como parte de una serie de conferencias sobre ideas emprendedoras. Dijo que cuando fundó la empresa que se transformó en PayPal tenía –y sigue teniendo– la filosofía de que “la mejor idea gana”. Es decir, la calidad y la novedad de la idea, en vez de los títulos del proponente o la jerarquía de las personas presentes, forman la base para decidir si esta idea vale la pena.

En negocios –sean nuevos emprendimientos o sean empresas tradicionales– es importante destacar el valor de la idea. Cuando decimos “la mejor idea gana”, estamos favoreciendo la idea por encima de los “adornos” de la idea. Claro que hay que estar bien preparados para exponer la idea y proponer cómo se la puede poner en práctica, pero también hay que recordar que las ideas tienen una conexión emocional más allá de ser simplemente una solución o una propuesta de valor.

Bernadette Jiwa, autora de The Fortune Cookie Principle y blogger de Storyoftelling.com, explica que el valor de los activos es finito, pero el valor de lo que representan los activos para uno es exponencial. Aunque el valor puede estar sugerido por una empresa o marca a través de la publicidad o una buena campaña de marketing, el valor real (que es lo que debe interesar a los empresarios), lo crea cada consumidor. Como dice Jiwa, lo que nos interesa es la fortuna y no la galleta china.

Las ideas nos llevan a tener mejores productos o servicios en nuestras organizaciones; sin embargo, las ideas –tal vez porque son intangibles y vienen de fuentes inesperadas– no son cómodas y suelen encontrarse, al menos al principio, con una reacción negativa porque implica un cambio del status quo.

Hay un sinnúmero de artículos, libros y presentaciones de cómo hacer un pitch o cómo presentar –de mejor manera– una idea con la intención de “venderla”. Vender el producto o servicio es fundamental, pero explorar el “por qué” de la compra –desde el punto de vista del cliente– también tiene su valor y puede representar aún más valor para la empresa que la venta en sí misma. Es decir, la razón por la que el cliente compra y la conexión emocional que tenga con la marca o la historia de la marca, dan pistas del comportamiento del cliente para futuras ventas y para desarrollar una comunidad alrededor de su marca.

Elon Musk es conocido como uno de los emprendedores destacados de nuestra época –uno que aboga por “la mejor idea”. Hay valor en los activos intangibles porque representan, como la fortuna de la galleta china, un vistazo de cómo pueden ser nuestras vidas; las soluciones a problemas se concretan y las barreras se superan porque alguien crea en lo intangible, la idea y el cambio del status quo.

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