The Business of Being Real

Eight years ago, I was 22, and was just starting my first full-time job in the “real world.” I was a Marketing Assistant for a mid-size consulting company in Cambridge, MA. After a few days on the job, I realized I would be writing A LOT (which just tickled me pink), but I also realized the English I was used to writing (that is, 16 page essays on 4 line Ezra Pound poems), might be, say, a little too verbose for the real world which was, VERY BUSY.

So, I did what any post-grad overachieving nerd would do and signed up for a class on “business writing.” On my first day I walked in and the teacher had written on the board “Just the Facts.” Right, I thought. Just the facts. I interpreted this as “be brief,” not, what I discovered soon after actually meant “void of human voice, closely resembling a computer on the TV show 3, 2, 1 contact.”

We had homework that night. To write an email to our imaginary client showcasing our imaginary new product (as a child with many imaginary friends, this came easily). I wrote up my email, (in storytelling fashion), interjecting the voice of a human (that being what I was, err am) trying to find ways to allow for a “connection.” I was succinct. Next class the teacher returned our assignments. “There is WAYYY too much of your voice in this email.” “It’s too touchy-feel-ey, human.” “Remember, just the facts!” “Uh, huh” I said, starting to think I wasn’t cut out for writing in the “real world.” For the next class, I worked on channeling my inner “speak of a non-human” “Better” she said.

What I know to be true today? My teacher quite simply missed the cluetrain.

I think it’s pretty safe to assume that anything I receive in the mail campaigning for something (person, product, event, etc) that is void of anything slightly resembling a human voice will 99% of the time end up in the trash. Alternatively, if the creator is real and extends an opportunity to connect, now we’re talking.

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Kevin Dubs

One would have to agree with the theme of your article in noting that business writing is disengaging.

I mean…I agree. I think professional writing has become robotic even though it’s something I’ve definitely been guilty of writing. I now find it refreshing when I read an email or newsletter that has some personality behind it.