To emoji with love

I’m awkward at ending conversations. If I’m talking to someone in person or over the phone, rather than saying, “So long,” I usually veer wildly off topic. If it’s an email, I’m compulsive about sending a “thanks” for information. (While it seems the polite thing to do, why am I making someone open an email when all it says is “thanks”? Yes, I agonize over this stuff.)

I’m pleased to report, though, that I’ve figured out how to exit gracefully from a text conversation.

I have an emoji to thank for that. When I want to end a conversation, I text the “thumb’s up” character. It has so many meanings: “got it,” “I’ll take care of it,” “you take care of it,” “for sure,” “yup.”

Anyone who works with me also knows that this emoji is shortcut for, “This conversation is over. You in no way have to text me back and I for sure won’t be texting you back.”

This little symbol packs a big punch.

I’m giving it two thumbs up. 👍 👍

Like it? Share it!

Three rules to writing well

As the parent of two young adults, I have put up with a lot in the past 20 years. It comes with the motherhood gig. But there’s one commandment I have insisted upon over the years:

“Thou shall write at least four drafts of a report or paper before handing in a final copy.”

My offspring have complained. “Why can’t you be like a normal parent and just tell us not to drink or do drugs?” they have asked time and again. “Because,” I tell them, “I trust your good judgment. It’s your sloppy writing I take issue with.”

I am stating here and now: one draft does not a good letter nor assignment nor article nor blog post make. Ever. What makes writing great is rewriting. Which means you need more than one draft.

Here’s the good news. There are only three rules you need to follow to write well.

Rule No. 1. Write a crappy first draft. This is brilliant advice from Daphne Gray-Grant of Publication Coach. Get something down on paper or up on the screen. Blurt it out. Don’t worry about content or style or length. Most important, don’t edit while you write. You want your crappy first draft to happen quickly. Editing as you go will just interrupt the process.

Rule No. 2. After you write your crappy first draft, don’t look at it till the next day. It won’t seem as lousy and this will cheer you up immensely.

Rule No. 3. Give yourself enough time to edit this first draft at least three times, and give yourself at minimum a few hours between each edit. Usually people don’t edit enough because they haven’t scheduled in sufficient time to do so before a deadline. But it’s during this stage—when you ensure your idea is good, your paragraphs flow, your sentences do not run on, your spelling is correct—that your writing goes from crappy to impressive.

I have no clue if my kids have become decent writers. They stopped showing me their work years ago: “Standards too high, mom. No teacher expects what you do.”

But if you follow these three rules, your writing will be solid. I promise.

Of course, if writing’s not your thing, you have an option my kids never had—hiring Combo to do it for you.

Like it? Share it!

My elevator pitch

It’s tough being an introvert in the era of networking. Here I am, the creative director of a communication design studio. Most of our work comes through connections. Yet when someone asks what I do for a living, my first urge is to change the subject. I can’t imagine how many opportunities have passed Combo by because of this reticence to describe what I do to people interested enough to ask.

Which is why I know that everybody needs an elevator pitch.

This is a speech that describes what your organization does, or what you specifically do, in 30 to 45 seconds—about the time people spend riding up or down an elevator. Of course, you don’t have to be in an elevator to give this spiel.

No matter what, an elevator pitch must be engaging. It requires thoughtful work and lots of practice to get right. The greatest communicators hit their points quickly and clearly: who they are, what they do, how they do it, who they do it for, what makes them or their organization unique.

While I’ve written elevator pitches for clients, I’ve been tongue-tied for years when it comes to explaining to others what I do for a living.

But I’m trying hard.

Combo Creative is a  communication design shop in Vancouver. We use creative, critical and design thinking to help our clients define and build their brands. Over the past few years, we’ve done everything from editing letters for one client to becoming another’s de facto marketing department. Most often we work to determine a client’s communication needs and recommend a combination of our services. Hence our name, Combo Creative.

I’m the creative director. I founded the studio in 2005 as a place for highly skilled creatives who want to produce engaging work with smart people for great clients. This approach has drawn remarkably talented creatives into the Combo fold and produced consistently exceptional results for our clients.

Here’s my card.

Now I just have to practice. Which is why I’m headed to the nearest elevator.

Like it? Share it!

Ah, l'amour

Has there ever been a better pairing than food and love? This may be an ad, but it’s also a funny and moving story about the power of love–over junk and processed food, no less. Great music, too. Bon appetit!

Like it? Share it!