Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan—golly that's a long time to brag on a job, but it is the last interesting thing she's ever done—has a kind of review, in today's WSJ, of the new Margaret Thatcher biopic Iron Lady.
I'm concerned that Noonan has slipped the surly bonds of readable prose:
"The leftist intelligentsia of her day, which claimed loyalty to and identification with the poor and marginalized, was shot through with snobs and snobbery. Underneath their egalitarian chatter was (and to some degree still is) a hidden, hungry admiration for and desire to be associated with the well-named and well-connected."
Loyalty to and identification with ... admiration for and desire to be associated with—in two consecutive sentences? Peggy, go back to your speechwriting basics and read your stuff out loud before you turn it in.
"completely BIZARRE and INAPPROPRIATE but HONEST question: does anyone want to marry me so I can get really good health insurance? i don't need housing, but if i'm going to do this, it's gotta be really, really good health insurance. is that unethical or illegal?"
Maybe you're wise enough to take some downtime between Christmas and New Year's. But it's hard, not doing any work on a staycation. For one thing, work is your only easy escape from your family. Yet, you don't want to cheat yourself by spending your down time toiling for the man.
So do what you ought to do: Spend some quiet time sifting the work you did this year, and look for the very best stuff you produced. The podcast interview that actually made the CEO sound human. The video that made everybody think differently about what the communication department is capable of. The kick-ass pull-quote that made a strategy story irresisble.
Behold those mini-masterpieces, and pat yourself on the back in a constructive way: Enter the stuff into the Magnum Opus Awards (sponsored by my publisher, McMurry), which "recognizes writers, editors, designers and communication managers who do great work in every area of content-delivery in print, online, in traditional media and social media alike."
Go ahead, do a little work over the holidays—but make that work work for you.
Unique Sales Stories: How to Persuade Others Through the Power of Stories is the title of a new book by a marketing consultant named Mark Satterfield.
Isn't Mark Satterfield pleasing to look at? I'll bet he would be fun to interview.
The press release quotes a review of the book in which a Larry Hart points out that "stories go back in history, for hundreds of years ...."
Yes, folks, hundreds!
But stories probably only go back to the Gutenberg press, right? Because before people had books to show them how to tell "sales stories," they did not have the foggiest idea how to persuade one another.
That was a simpler, happier time, when people mostly left each other alone. Or beat each other over the head with clubs.
"Dad, when kids do acting, do they get paid?"
"Yeah, but their parents put the money away for them until they're old enough."
"Because kids don't know what to do with money."
"Yes we do!"
"Okay, what would you do if you had a million dollars?"
"Buy a phone."
My dad used to tell a story about his silver-haired steel-executive father visiting the big office Dad got when they made him creative director of the Detroit ad agency, Campbell-Ewald.
"Bud," said the old man, gaping in astonishment that pleased and pained my dad for the rest of his life. "Are you this good?"
Dad's gone now, but sometimes I imagine him looking around my little home office, strewn with my papers and kid's toys and empty cans, coffee cups and granola bar wrappers, and asking: "Bud, are you this bad?"
* Yes, I do realize I've been talking about my parents even more than usual here. Maybe it's the time of year—my mom died on Thanksgiving, 1990, and dad departed January 2009. I often say I don't miss them because they're still here, but maybe that's a load of bullshit.