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The art of the telling detail

first_imgWhen I was working for Reuters covering the July 1997 coup in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the airport was dismantled by a procession of people, each more desperate than the last. First, retreating royalists soldiers cleaned out the XO Cognac at the duty free. Then the victorious troops moved in, raiding the safes and taking the computers, the lines of connected waiting-room chairs and air conditioners, strapping them atop tanks. What remained when I arrived was the roof, the bullet-pocked walls, and a carpet of broken glass and scattered tourist photos still taped to trampled visa applications. Children and a few parents from the village by the airport arrived late in the day to take what little was left – wiring from behind the walls, light fixtures, scraps of paper. In the men’s room, two teenage boys ripped the door from its hinges and wrenched the urinals from the wall. A young boy walked across the glass shards with two paddles, one red and one green, which were used to direct aircraft to their stopping points. He saw me and shrugged. I tried to explain how to use the paddles in my halting Khmer. I waved them over my shoulders and then crossed them in the command for a full stop. He seized them, laughing and waving them in all directions, making criss-crossing lines and collision courses. “Barang!” he screamed, laughing, and ran away with the paddles. Foreigner.I’m remembering that day with you through telling details, like the trampled tourist photos. The trampled photos packed an entire, complex story into a single image, so they were worth sharing. So did the stolen cognac, the loot-laden tanks and the boy, waving his paddles. At least that’s the idea. I could have simply told you the airport was looted, but I wanted to show you the scene. I wanted to convey the telling details. They are what makes life interesting and stories alive.The power of the telling detail is that it does what good writing is meant to do – it transports us to a place, a time, a person’s mind. It shows us what that moment felt like to live, and what it meant.This week, I want to blog about writing. Because no matter how great our talents as marketers, we will always need the gift of good writing. The best writing advice I have ever been given is old and oft-cited, but it is also dead on: show, don’t tell. Do it with a telling detail. Don’t just talk about your programs in abstract language. Force yourself to define the small story elements that stick in the mind. Strip your prose of tired adjectives. Banish the passive voice. Yank the reader out of her bored, tuned-out state with a startling image she can’t forget.Do you have an image like that? A sentence, a story? Send it to me here, in a comment. Inspire others with your talent. I leave you with these words, from a book on writing fiction – but they surely apply to writing about our work. They say it better than I can.Specific, definite, concrete, particular details – these are the life of fiction. Details (as every good liar knows) are the stuff of persuasiveness… John Gardner in The Art of Fiction speaks of details as “proofs,” rather like those in a geometric theorem or statistical argument. A detail should be seen, heard, smelled, tasted, or touched… [and] the detail must matter.” –Janet Burroway, Writing Fiction: A guide to Narrative Craft.last_img read more

3 powerful reasons to write your brand story

first_imgThis is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.The other day I watched a Baby Tylenol commercial that moved me to tears (I know, I’m a pretty easy target!). The hero of the ad was a baby with an ear infection and, while his mom tried everything to comfort her little one, the only thing that finally brought everyone some relief was, you guessed it, Baby Tylenol.Now who do you think has a baby who recently had an ear infection? That’s right, me!Those clever ad people know if you tell a story that resonates with a specific pain point, throw in a cute baby, and heart-string-tugging musical score, the first thing that target customer will reach for next time their baby is sick is Baby Tylenol.If one of your business goals is to increase engagement, grow your audience, and turn prospects in to paying clients more consistently, here are three powerful reasons why you should right and share your brand story:1) Stories inspire and build emotional connection When you’re buying a new computer, tablet, or phone do you gravitate towards an Apple or a Samsung? Chances are you go for Apple. Why? It’s probably not because of the capabilities or features (unless you’re my dad), but because the brand story, or more specifically, Steve Jobs’ story, resonates with you. After all, what design professional doesn’t feel motivated by a creative vision that began its life in suburban garage, and grew into an iconic, multi-bazillion dollar brand? It’s a story that makes us feel ANYTHING is possible.How to apply this to your business or career: Instead of articulating the features of your work, think about the story of why you decided to do what you do? Was there a particular event that triggered your decision? A teacher or mentor who inspired you? Write down everything that comes to you, regardless how insignificant or familiar it feels. Hold that thought, because you’re going to use that to build your story later! Side note, for more on this check out Simon Sinek’s TED talk, Start with Why.2) Stories build community Have you noticed that the successful people you admire, without exception, are founders of, or members of, amazing communities? One example is Tina Roth Eisenberg, founder of Creative Mornings. Tina’s everywhere; panels, creative conferences etc. and she always shares the story of why she started Creative Mornings and shares the story of its growth. The fact that it’s become so successful only serves to deepen the connection and devotion so many people feel to her community.How to apply this to your business or career: Brainstorm ways you could build a community around your work and mission. What’s the story that inspires the community? What’s the main purpose of creating that community? Who would you want to invite? It could be as simple as a Facebook group, starting a podcast, or building a platform for people to connect and learn. Don’t worry about the “how” for now, just the “why” and “who.”3) Sharing your story builds trust In Timothy Ferris’s new book, Tools of Titans, Brené Brown talks about the decision to stop flying under the radar and share her own story in her infamous TED talk The Power of Vulnerability. Her decision to speak openly about her breakdown, spiritual awakening, and therapy that really catapulted her onto the stage of thought leaders. How many of us would be willing to talk about a deep personal crisis on a big stage?How to apply this to your business or career: Think of an experience or time in your life that galvanized you around your mission and vision to do what you do. It can be positive or negative. But if it was a negative event, be sure the story has a happy, inspiring ending. You want to take your prospective clients on a journey that lifts them up, not brings them down!If you feel shy about sharing your story, or don’t know where to start, you’re in good company. Few of us come out of the womb willing to be totally visible and share the ups and downs of our experiences and growth. As the tennis legend Arthur Ashe so perfectly put it, “start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”If you’re ready to bust out your story, but know you’ll never do it on your own, I can help! During a 90-minute Skype coaching session, we’ll drill down to who your audience is, what matters to them, and how craft a brand story that builds the connection and trust that builds business. Interested? Email me at to learn more and get your session in the calendar!I’d love to hear from you. Do you share your story? Would you like to? Please share a comment below!Justine Clay is a speaker and business coach for creative entrepreneurs and freelancers. Sign up for Justine’s free guide: How to Find High-Quality Clients and Get Paid What You’re Worth.last_img read more

Thursday January 10 • Jay Gruden interviews for

first_imgThursday, January 10• Jay Gruden interviews for Arizona Cardinals head coaching position ( Arizona Cardinals’ search for a head coach is ongoing, and Thursday the team interviewed Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden for the vacant position. • ESPN NFL insider: Mike McCoy the ‘leader in the clubhouse’ for Cardinals job ( NFL insider John Clayton does not know who the next head coach of the Arizona Cardinals will be, but he believes Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has a good shot. The Cardinals have since searched far and wide for a coach, and as of now they’re still looking.Here’s a timeline of what has gone on so far.Coaching search is now on day: 17 Wednesday, January 16• Report: Arizona Cardinals, Bruce Arians had dinner Wednesday night ( next candidate for the Arizona Cardinals head coaching job met with team officials on Wednesday night.• Darrell Bevell chats with Arizona Cardinals, says he’s ready to be a head coach ( latest head coaching candidate to walk through the Arizona Cardinals’ Tempe training facility is somewhat familiar with the area.• Bruce Arians in, Ray Horton out? ( has learned through sources that Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will not retain Ray Horton as defensive coordinator if he indeed lands the vacant Arizona Cardinals head coaching job. • Report: Cardinals request permission to speak with Bruce Arians ( to insider Ian Rapoport reported the team has requested permission to speak with Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. Monday, January 14• Report: Cardinals want Mike McCoy in for second interview ( the Denver Broncos eliminated from the playoffs, the battle to hire offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is likely to pick up some steam. • NFL Insider: Andy Reid ‘expected’ to land in Arizona ( has been much speculation about who will take over the head coaching reins of the Arizona Cardinals. One name that has been linked frequently to the Cardinals is former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid. Wednesday, January 9• Conflicting reports on Todd Haley’s future (, what’s going on? There are reports saying Todd Haley is in Arizona to chat with the Cardinals as well as saying he is not interested in the job.• Report: Todd Haley happy with Steelers, no interview coming with Cardinals ( to a report by’s Ian Rapoport, Todd Haley is not all too interested in being the Cardinals’ head coach. Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton is in the midst of the interview process to become a head coach somewhere.• Andy Reid, Chiefs still talking; Chargers interview this weekend ( Reid is in his second day meeting with Chiefs officials and that process has been going well, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Reid was originally scheduled to arrive in Arizona to interview with the Cardinals on Wednesday.• Are Cardinals getting used by Andy Reid? Maybe ( of Tuesday afternoon was spent reading reports about Andy Reid’s likelihood of landing in the desert.• Sources: Cards target Andy Reid ( league source said he was “95 percent” certain Reid will wind up coaching the Cardinals, and multiple sources stated that he could agree to accept the job by the end of the week.• Ray Horton Confident After Interview ( Horton laid out his plans to Michael Bidwill during a give-and-take talk, Horton said, covering everything from players and coaches to potential remodeling of the Cardinals’ Tempe facility and the type of grass used on the practice fields. • Report: Cardinals set to interview Seahawks coordinator Darrell Bevell ( Arizona Cardinals, appearing to have missed out on top choices Andy Reid and Mike McCoy, have apparently added another name to their list of head coaching candidates.• Report: Broncos OC McCoy to become Chargers head coach ( Sports’ Jason La Canfora reports Tuesday the San Diego Chargers, who spoke with McCoy for the first time the previous day, are about to finalize a deal with the coach. • Report: Andy Reid interview with Kansas City went well ( Eagles head coach Andy Reid has garnered quite a bit of interest around the league just a few days after being fired by Philadelphia. The Arizona Cardinals have wasted little time looking for a new head coach after firing Ken Whisenhunt Monday.First, President Michael Bidwill said the team would interview defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid.While the team has already conducted interviews with Horton and plans to do so with McCoy in Denver this weekend, Reid will now reportedly be taking his talents to Kansas City in a drastic turn of events. Top Stories The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo • Andy Reid close to Chiefs deal ( Kansas City Chiefs are on the verge of a deal to make Andy Reid their next head coach, according to league sources.• Arizona Cardinals allowed to interview Todd Haley (’s Ian Rapoport confirmed Thursday through a Pittsburgh Steelers source that the Cardinals requested permission to speak to Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley about their head-coaching vacancy• Source: Reid cancels interview with Cardinals ( Reid appears unlikely to be come the Cardinals’ next coach, with a source telling The Associated Press on Thursday that Reid is in negotiations with the Chiefs to become head coach and has canceled plans to interview for other openings, including the one in Arizona.• Cardinals ask Steelers for permission to interview Todd Haley ( The Arizona Cardinals have put a familiar face on their list of coaching candidates.Multiple reports say the Cardinals have asked the Pittsburgh Steelers’ permission to interview offensive coordinator Todd Haley. • Report: Cardinals interested in interviewing Jay Gruden( one more to the list of coaching candidates the Arizona Cardinals are interested in to fill their open vacancy: Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. 0 Comments   Share   Thursday, January 3• ESPN insider: Cardinals just ‘got beat’ by Chiefs ( a brief moment in time it appeared Andy Reid was going to be the next head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.Then Reid interviewed with the Kansas City Chiefs, and that idea flew out the window. Wednesday, January 2• Ray Horton: Interviews with Cardinals, Browns and Bills have gone well ( Friday, January 4• Arizona Cardinals met with GM prospect Morocco Brown( VP of Media Relations Mark Dalton tweeted team brass met with GM prospect Morocco Brown in Washington, D.C. on Friday and are scheduled to interview Broncos OC Mike McCoy on Saturday.• ESPN insider: Mike McCoy is ready to be a head coach(, ESPN NFL insider John Clayton told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf, is ready to be a head coach.• Report: Haley has yet to agree to interview with Cardinals ( receiving permission to interview Todd Haley, the Cardinals have not talked with him yet, according to an ESPN report. Monday, December 31• Cardinals ask permission to interview Denver’s Mike McCoy ( Cardinals, along with the Chicago Bears, have asked for permission to interview Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy for the vacant position. • NFL Insider: ‘Debatable’ Ray Horton will get head coaching position ( Ray Horton has proven himself at each of his five NFL stops (Washington Redskins, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals), one ESPN insider isn’t so sure he’s ready for the promotion. • Arizona Cardinals will interview Andy Reid ( hours after the Arizona Cardinals announced that they had fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves, names started surfacing for the job openings, including former head coach Andy Reid. Tuesday, January 1• Cardinals Notebook: Reports of Andy Reid hire may be premature ( the coaching search reportedly centered around three candidates — former Philadelphia coach Andy Reid, Arizona defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy — the Cardinals media relations staff refuted reports that Reid had already been tabbed.• Report: Arizona Cardinals ‘very close’ to hiring Andy Reid ( Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid may be close to landing another head coaching position.• Bill O’Brien of major interest in NFL ( Cardinals were one of a handful of teams to inquire about Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien’s interest in returning to the NFL as a head coach.• Cardinals’ coaching search: Andy Reid becoming the front-runner (Sporting News)Recently fired Eagles coach Andy Reid is expected to end up getting the same position with the Cardinals by week’s end, CBS Sports reported. Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Monday, January 7• Cardinals set to interview Jay Gruden( just completed his second season in Cincinnati — both of which ended in playoff appearances for the Bengals. Cincinnati’s offense ranked 22nd in the league in total yards in 2012 and 12th in scoring. In 2011, the Bengals offense ranked 20th in yardage and 18th in scoring. Tuesday, January 15 Tuesday, January 8• Gruden confirms interest but likes his foundation with Dalton, Bengals ( Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden confirmed Tuesday the Cardinals and Eagles have received permission to interview him for their head coaching jobs and indications are he’ll visit Arizona later in the week. Sunday, January 6 Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more