Why You Must Write – Why I Write

Posted by Richard Moran.

Everywhere I go I see people writing in those cool black journals. I see them in coffee shops, airports, hotel lobbies or any place that requires waiting or wasting time. What are they writing? It doesn’t matter. Whether it be deep thoughts about the universe or a short memo, the act of writing is important. The most successful people I see in business (or most other careers) are excellent writers. In fact, the best writers I ever worked with were investors at a venture capital firm. Their writing told a story about whether or not to invest millions of dollars. I write, and to be successful, you must write too.

The reasons why I write are not complicated but may be helpful to you.

  • Writing is cathartic. Pouring out frustrations, plans, complaints and thoughts can be therapeutic. You will feel better after writing things down.
  • Writing is not for fame or fortune. J.K. Rowling and a few others aside, you probably will never make much money, if any, for writing.  Remember there is a difference between writing and publishing. Writing just to get published never produces great results. Write for the craft, the passion, the creativity.
  • Writing will make others think you are smart and your mother will be proud of you.  Movies are made about writers and there can be an intimation of a romantic life. That is not true, but don’t tell anyone.
  • Writing creates something. Something is there right on the screen or in the notebook and a body of work exists. After spending a day looking at spreadsheets, columns of numbers or in meetings it can be gratifying to know that something, in fact, has been created and you did it.
  • Writing helps me connect with special people I haven’t seen in a long time. I want others to know that the person that they knew is still in here. I hope they are reading and smiling.
  • Writing can kill time. Have you ever been on an airplane when you don’t feel like reading and the headphones don’t work on the movie? Writing could be the solution. Time can whisk by when lost in thought trying to put a paragraph together.

For me, any illusion of being a great writer disappeared a long time ago. Maybe it was in college when I realized what great writing is and that the notion left me. Great writers make words sing and dance off the page. My words walk along next to each other and eventually form a story. I am an observer, I just write things down that I observe. The formula works for me, I have sold over 500,000 books through major publishers. Even as a writer who chronicles the notion of work, I don’t compete with the great nonfiction writers like Michael Porter or Malcolm Gladwell. The formula works for me but you need to find your own formula – your own voice.

Now I am about to attend a world famous writer’s conference – as a writer. I will be in residence at Writers Week in Listowel, County Kerry in Ireland with the likes of Richard Ford and Alan Cumming.  It all started with being an observer and writing it down. You can do that too.

You will be fine (and other advice for graduates)

Posted by Richard Moran.

(An excerpt from my commencement address of May 2017)

Commencement is my favorite day of the year. Everyone is happy!

Each year I exercise the Presidential Prerogative to give important parting advice. Although aimed at the graduating class, everyone can listen and take heed. Past advice has included never tie a mattress to the roof of your car and quit as many jobs as you can.

My advice this year is gleaned from a body of work that is timely and inspirational. It is a body of work rarely studied by scholars. I am referring to country-western songs. The best advice is often the simplest, here goes:

My first piece of advice comes from Carrie Underwood, “Sometimes life leads you down a different road. Someday you’ll see the reason why there’s good in goodbye.” The message is DO NOT LOOK BACK and DO NOT WAIT. If you want to start a business, do it. If you want to travel, go ahead. If you want to be a musician, be one. Too often I see people wait for that next promotion or until I’m thirty or some artificial threshold. Time is not on your side.

The next pearl of wisdom from the country song world is about getting responses, hearing back from others. It’s about the rudeness of unresponsive people and organizations. The sentiment is best captured in the old Randy Travis song, “Since my phone still ain’t ringing, I assume it still ain’t you.”

You will be applying for jobs. You will be applying to graduate school. And it will be frustrating because you never hear back. I don’t know why responses don’t come. It seems to me that when you pour yourself into something, the least you deserve is a response – even if the response is NO. When you don’t hear, don’t give up. Eventually you will hear and it will be good. The phone will ring or the text will buzz with a positive message.

Great advice can sometimes be captured right in the title of a country song like, “God is great, beer is good, people are crazy” recorded by Billy Currington.

I find this one to be more true than not. Keep your priorities straight. Keep your faith and keep your friends. Drink the beer if you want but don’t drive. And recognize people can be crazy. Someone I love reminded me recently that what is in your heart is what matters. Keep your priorities straight.

The great song by Miranda is also appropriate. The song is “Hide your crazy… even when you fall apart.”

The transition out of college can be brutal. All transitions can be difficult. You will stumble. Your hearts will be broke. You will wonder what’s important. You will have failures. You just need to pick yourself up and try again and hide your crazy.

And lastly, you have heard lots of things that can induce stress and be just worrisome. Among the things that you’ve hear are:

  • Fix your resume
  • Don’t ever get caught on inappropriate videos
  • Change your hair
  • Hide your tattoos
  • Don’t post on social media
  • Take coding classes
  • Learn spreadsheets
  • Don’t put your phone on the dinner table
  • Practice presentation skills
  • Get that internship
  • Your first job is important
  • Your first job isn’t important
  • You won’t find a job
  • Network, network, network
  • Beware the reply button
  • Never be late
  • Don’t eat sugar

The list goes on and on and on but here is my take away for the day:

It will be fine. You will be fine. I have confidence in each and every one of you that you have learned life lessons and skills that will enable you to be who you want to be. In those moments when you are worried, remember my parting piece of advice; IT WILL BE FINE.

The Customers are Angry and Armed with Phones

Posted by Richard Moran.

Remember when companies had slogans like “the customer always come first”? Or, “It takes months to find a customer and only seconds to lose one.” Something changed and we don’t hear that phrases like those much any more unless the slogan is embedded in a letter of apology to customers. Instead, the phrase of the day could be, Customers Are Pissed Off and Armed with Cell Phones.

Usually when one thinks of airline disasters the thought of crashes and life or death situations come to mind. But there were two recent airline disasters, both involved customers and are the best examples of what many believe to be the current state of customer service. Videos of the incidents went viral because we can all imagine ourselves being in the same customer service crisis.  But enough about the airlines, when it comes to customer service, they are easy targets. Something more pernicious has had an impact on customer relations.

Somewhere along the line the concept of judgment fell out of the customer service manual. It is the lack of judgment that is killing customer service and being caught on those videos. When it comes to customers, sometimes a little common sense and taking a real assessment of what is happening is more important than the rule. Employee manuals and policies are missing the mark when it comes to dealing with customers because the word judgment is missing.  The best employee manual I’ve ever seen is from Nordstrom. The rule is: “Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.” In the case of the airline fiascos, the policy was being followed but a little judgment on the part of the airlines would have made a world of difference.

Now we are all armed. We want to catch an employee following a rule that flaunts good judgment.  Go ahead we dare you. We know the damage that one cell phone video can do to a large organization   Every organization take heed. The real lesson in all the customer relationship issues today seems to be the lack of judgment exercised by employees. Lots of viral videos can be avoided if only judgment would interact with policy and rules.

Here are some examples of what the new customer service slogans could be:

  • Please Don’t Take a Video, I Am Following Company Policy
  • Customers Deserve Good Judgment, Not A Bad Policy
  • I May Get Fired, But the Customer is Right
  • Superior Customer Service Means We Break the Rules
  • Discretion and Dedication For Customers

What’s your customer service slogan?