Curving back onto my nature, I create again and again

Curving back onto my nature, I create again and again

I started this blankly staring into the computer screen, determined not to budge until something came out of it.

And frankly, when I started out on my own, four years ago, I had no idea where I was going. I’d love to make up a story about how I always knew I’d be a copywriter and strategist one day. Nope.

All I knew was that I was out of the corporate bubble and that I’d never work for a day in my life. I was going to do what I’d always postponed to do. The stuff you muse about on the midlife crisis wintery nights. I was hyped.

I also had money in my bank account for at least half a year of exploration and flight tickets lined up for a month of places I’d never been before, including my first surf spot ever.

And explore I did. I plunged into filming a documentary about my aikido buddies. That flexed my create-from-nothing-with-tools-you-never-used-before muscle. Also, the look-like-you-got-it-while-you-clearly-don’t. All in all, excellent practice.

As one of my favourite people to ever walk the earth said, it was the brave thing to do. I was marching into the unknown armed with nothing.”

Then my first batch of would be clients emerged. Friends who needed websites or were launching products. And so the kitchen counter writing frenzy started.

It felt a bit off not to dress up in the morning and curse through traffic. I got used to it. (Now I have writing practice, meditation and yoga instead. Woo-hah!)

I was staying up tinkering home pages and making sense of their course materials. I’d been doing that in my corporate jobs for years, anyway. Now it was online.

So I got educated. I went to B-school, wrote with Laura Belgray, who also recommended Selena Soo, and charmed me into the Money Boot Camp (worth it). At her workshop I met my friend Monicka, who’s got this cool retreat for supergirls, and couldn’t shut up about the 90 Day Year.

I took the 90 Day Year, too. There’s life before and life after. But more on it some other time. I’ll just say all the odd bits and pieces of paper on my desk I used to make lists on are gone.

Then Amy Posner came along and opened the Copy Hackers era, where I actually learned the ropes. To the point where I can say in seconds if the messaging is off. Then where to look to fix it.

Looking back I remember the landmarks: first day out of the job. First client. First copywriting and strategy client. First course. First time I called myself a writer in public. In groups. To strangers and to people who knew me. First website. First serious breakdown. First client I never knew before.

And especially first time I called myself a positioning and messaging strategist for innovators and thought leaders.

This is not a your-heart-will-lead-you-home piece. Although it will. This is a jump-in piece.

If you’re struggling to voice out your choice from a sea of options out there, you have my utmost and complete compassion. I’ve had my guts massacred with the agony. (I had bills to pay so I kept going.)

But I know this: I can’t catch a wave from the shore.

So if your idea is not that clear yet and you only have half of an innovation or the embryo of a thought, get it in front of the people it’s for. It doesn’t have to be big. Work it. Test it. Get the right pair of eyes on it. I’ll reason with you for 20 minutes. It’s a start.

PS. The line in the title is from Bhagavad Gita. (I finally came down to reading it.) To me it’s a crisp way of saying you have a core. And you replicate it again and again, like a DNA. That’s your work. And while you’re alive, it never stops. Book.

Say what you do in one line

Say what you do in one line

I dare you. That’s your UVP.

I call it your DNA. Because it replicates again and again and becomes your work. (Turn it on its head for clients, and it becomes a tagline.)

It’s the hardest thing. I did a short documentary once, about my aikido friends. Do you know what the toughest question was? What’s the movie about. When I started mumbling, I knew I was in trouble.

Nail that, and you have a shot. You graduate to the realm of execution Minecraft. No guarantees there, either, but at least you get to play.

Yes, you got that right. Without a good UVP and a good tagline, you don’t even get to play. You’re in the sidelines, hoping to score with no ball coming your way. There’s no ball in the sidelines.

Can you figure out what these guys do?

Can you be as crisp about your business or your idea (if you’re treading in start-up)? No worries if it’s not fancy or smart. You don’t need it, samurai’s honour.

And if you can’t, grab pen and pad and scribble a bit.

I help X with Y, where X is the client you can’t have enough of till the end of time and Y is the thing you would regret most not doing if the world came to an end tonight. That work.

(If it’s not that intense, it’s not the end of the world, I promise. I mean, I don’t think it’s coming tonight. Just work with what you’ve got going.)

Unload all that and look at it. Have you just blurted out some giant frog? Are you strangely proud or relieved? Scared out of your wits or still very, very confused?

By the way, this is not hard for start-ups only. It’s hard for everyone. Because your business evolves and you understand your client better or differently, and that needs to show in how you name your game.

That’s what the DNA says: it gives shape and form to your game. The tagline communicates that same shape and form to your client.

Your tagline is your DNA in clientspeak.

And if you can’t figure it out on your own and look for a translation bureau, that’s what I do.

“I help women tune-up for health beyond 40” or “I help innovators build unicorns” are the beginning of a matrix. The tip of the iceberg. The portal to a world of words that put you in the limelight for your business’s true love: your clients.

I love going there with you. I help thought leaders and innovators like you word out their product. Crisply.