Say it. Do it. (copywriting for startups)

Good copy can cut through clutter and almost draw your customers into a deeper relationship with your product or brand. Fun fact: during my freshman year of collage, I was a courier for an ad agency and I thought the copywriter was a lawyer who filed copyrights on all the logos the agency created. Ah…youth! My buddy Paul Singh invited me to share a few thoughts and trips for startups who need to properly convey their message. So..a few pointers. It doesn’t require a behavior, unless it does. Know what goals you want your copy to accomplish. All copy and messaging can align with a key part of the consumer psychology experience: awareness, preference, engagement, referral/retention. Don’t expect awareness and preference to drive behaviors, but they do manage mindset. That mindset is generally necessary to move toward behavior.   Match your tone with your brand values (you know your brand’s values, right?). The target audience should have a subconscious connection to your brand through the copy. Carl Jung identified universal archetypes. Build a brand that aligns with one or two of these archetypes and that will help ensure tone is on point. Build your MVC (Minimum Viable Copy) What is the least you can say to clearly communicate. Jay Leno is famously known for writing a joke and then going through a rigorous exercise to get it down to two words: one of the set-up and one for the punchline. Embrace brevity or you’ll bore people. No one loves your words more than you. Humor creates intimacy (wait, are we talking about startups or dating?). Even with a serious... read more

Time Doesn’t Heal All Wounds

I am not sure which young black man’s death prompted this art piece. It’s not that I don’t care; I just can’t remember. I just know that I feel like I can set my watch to the gun violence that erupts seemingly every hour on the hour. At the same time, people wonder why the African American community can’t just move past things. Why do we harbor such fear, frustration, pain and anger? Why? Because the past is the present and seems to be the future. I’ve called this piece “Time Doesn’t Heal All Wounds.” It is constructed of oak, Plexiglass and 49 bullets. It starts with one, way in the back. Each subsequent layer consists of bullets to which you can set your watch. Each one occupying a space on a clock reserved for measuring time. Each layer expanding wider and further. Each layer disrupting more lives. Each layer ending more lives. If you stare directly at it, you can see your reflection. You can see the impact. You can see the target. But you have to look at it. If you don’t look, you pretend that the layer upon layer upon layers don’t effect you. Stare at it. This is an epidemic. I make art as a means to communicate and understand. I am confused by our priorities: right to guns over right to life. When will we get over it? When the bullets stop expanding. When people stop dying. When the layers... read more

Framed Perspectives

What started as a simple way to hide a blighted wall in my backyard quickly took on a life of its own. Here is what was known: I had an ugly wall, I wanted something pretty, I like colorful environments, and I wanted something bold. Then, my heart and my perspective shifted.

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Is your career insulated?

I don’t take myself too seriously. I also think we are a collection of our experiences and we bring that collection to each job we get. The process by which those experiences are packaged and how new experiences are added to the collection seems very interesting. We are beyond the world of resumes and job postings. There is a way for people to assemble their collection in a way that it aligns with opportunities even before an opportunity presents itself.

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It’s not a myth. HAPPYWORK does exist.

I remember a prof in grad school telling us that happy employees aren’t always productive, but productive employee are typically happy. My academic background is in the field of organizational psychology (behavior, development and leadership) and I’ve always been a student of systems and design. My career has allowed me to work for large corporations and small startups and I’ve frequently been the guy brought in to fix, heal, correct, build or stabilize a company or organization. I enjoy it and I am pretty damn good at it. Want to know my secret?

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Ferguson, George Costanza & Perceived Incongruent Response

How did we get here? How did we get to this point? Is this what we should consider to be normal? Let’s talk about tension, confusion, blame, emotional explosions and the role humility and vulnerability might play in healing our community. Let’s talk about how we have moved so far away from a place of restorative justice and think that retribution is the only solution (HINT: when people talk about there being a price to pay, then they are looking for retribution).

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Startup Landscape: Full of Empty Promises from Supportive Communities

“We support startups.”

“We believe in startups.”

“The only thing our startup community needs is a little more capital.”

I have seen communities full of incubators, mentors, programs and good-hearted people. I have seen federal, state and local funds flow into systems promising to launch new ventures, create jobs and stimulate the startup ecosystem. What I haven’t seen are customers. Hell, I rarely even see a willingness to serve as beta testers.

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Simple Math of Innovation

According to the common platitude, attitude is everything. While that looks good on a motivational poster or as a sound bite, it really is meaningless when it comes to innovation.

True and consistent innovation will benefit from a little math. There are two inputs in this innovation equation: creativity and strategy. The degree to which each input is embraced or given priority will determine the outcome.

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The Birds, the Bees & F-words

Creating an innovation ecosystem seems daunting. There are lots of places to start. Biotechnology has firm roots in the region. Computer-based advancements and ventures are gaining steam. However, what will the next areas of innovation be? How do we create a structure that allows us to explain our innovation choices to the next generation?

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