For a person consistently behind and playing catch up, the case for a personal blog is very questionable.
Especially so when I have a backlog of fully researched, partially written articles for APPEALIE which are still unpublished, roughly 10 months behind schedule.
I am a painfully slow writer. I would like this to change.
I also need to improve as a writer and communicator to realize my goals.
I recently made a first attempt at implementing Amazon’s “meeting by memo” to layout my business vision for 2019. I found writing this memo helpful for:
- Refining my overall business vision, especially for SEAL Awards, and – with a prompt from Scott Belsky’s “Messy Middle” – actually communicating that vision to my team.
- The thinking required by writing caused me to revisit and grade past decisions in a way I would not have otherwise. Evaluating past decisions as showed me that making ambitious bets – like including environmental journalism awards from Day 1 as a pillar of SEAL – generally were the right choices.
- The writing process also caused me to concretely express a more aspirational goal for SEAL – “To create an unconstrained, entrepreneurial, creative platform that is uniquely capable of pursuing and realizing our own environmental impact and activism campaigns” – relative to our initial awards-driven approach.
- A secondary benefit: Creating a written record to point back to. To highlight the necessity of compounding incremental efforts for the SEAL organization to realize its goals over a 50-year plus horizon, writing a memo caused me to actually do the fucking work of showing how a believable application of compounding math – basically getting 44% better each year – translates into phenomenal results (see Footnotes for more). Over time I would like to create my own version of Matt Mochary’s “The Great CEO Within” – an excellent and open-sourced founder’s playbook you will find frequently re-shared on Hacker News – that I can point to.
Writing my vision memo has crossed over into a branding binge.
I cannot recommend Michael Johnson’s “Branding In Five And A Half Steps” highly enough. Seriously, buy his book.
The book lays out critical questions for any brand to answer:
Why are we here?
What do we do and how do we do it?
What makes us different?
What are we here for?
What do we value most?
What’s our personality?
If I am a poor and slow writer, I am likely to avoid doing the actual fucking work of actually answering these strategic questions.
With enough practice – like writing this blog – I will at least become marginally faster and a more relaxed writer where I can at least generate more iterations of these brand answers, increasing my chances of something sticking.
Other rationales for writing this blog:
- I want SEAL to be a public platform that ambitious, talented and creative environmental advocates use to make an impact. I have a theory that transparently sharing my thinking here might help motivate action-oriented advocates to reach out.
- SEAL’s activism work requires excellent communication. Our 2019 impact initiatives will involve asking massive companies to change. A poorly made case will be quickly dismissed and ineffective.
- I need to hire writers for both APPEALIE and SEAL. Doing my own writing – no matter how bad – should help me understand what really goes into producing a 600-word article or how to identify writers with real skills unlike me.
A Plea For Your Referrals:
Environmental Advocates: We want SEAL to be a platform that makes environmental impact ideas come to life. If you know of an environmental advocate that would benefit from our platform – like our media relationships, financial resources, and campaign execution skills – please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Advocate Referral” in the subject line.
SaaS Writers: If you know any freelance writers with a track record writing about SaaS, please email us at email@example.com with “Writer Referral” in the subject line. If we develop an ongoing relationship with that writer, we will pay you a meaningful cash referral bonus.
The compounding example from my 2019 Vision Memo: