Does Your Marketing and Writing Pass The Four-Way Test?

From the earliest days of the organization, Rotarians were concerned with promoting high ethical standards in their professional lives. One of the world’s most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics is The Four-Way Test, which was created in 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor (who later served as RI president) when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy.

This 24-word test for employees to follow in their business and professional lives became the guide for sales, production, advertising, and all relations with dealers and customers, and the survival of the company is credited to this simple philosophy. Adopted by Rotary in 1943, The Four-Way Test has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. It asks the following four questions:

“Of the things we think, say or do:

1. Is it the TRUTH?

2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?

3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?

4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to the Redmond Rousers Rotary members and it was special for it was my inaugural Rotary speaking engagement (with opportunity #2 coming soon!). It was exciting to be the program speaker and it was simply a lot of fun. The members were good sports as I took control of the literal “classroom” we occupied and they “winged it” in a writing prompt I customized for the evening (smile).

A fine curry was served for dinner and my “non-speech” went off without a hitch and we accomplished good stuff in 20 minutes. Keeping the content simple and the conversation flowing worked like a charm. Yes, I easily stayed within the time limit and facilitated a rousing dialogue. (Communicating with heart and simplicity works pretty much all the time too!) Turns out the Rousers each have a favorite story to blog about in the future and I look forward to seeing the Rouser’s Blog feature many more contributors and perspectives. (Keep me posted Kelly!)

I had been invited to speak two months back by Kelly Kyle, current President of the Rousers, who is an enthusiastic leader of a now growing chapter. Kelly has done a lot of PR in the last 18 months that has boosted awareness of the Service Projects of this Rotary Chapter via blogging and writing and social media marketing.

The most recent fundraiser, the Coupe de Cascades, (a 425 mile bike ride in a single day) even attracted the attention of Race Across America and may soon be an official qualifying race that occurs in Washington State. Here again Authentic, Heartfelt and Savvy Social Media Marketing and yes, blogging and writing, helped raised the level of awareness on what one local chapter of Rotary is up to.

How did the Rousers get so “SMART?” I happen to know this story because it was more than a year ago, Kelly also started coming (when her busy schedule allowed) to the weekly Writers/Bloggers Support group I host. I remember the day that Kelly shared how the Rousers had invested and wisely so into learning how to use blogging and social media practices to genuinely attract new members AND community support for their events.

The Rousers as a chapter agreed to “invest” in something significant. Kelly received excellent coaching and support and training from Blaine Millet of Word of Mouth on Steroids. What Blaine suggested and trained Kelly on intensively (at first) is what I suggest all my marketing and writing clients embrace as well. Some do and some don’t and frankly, “It’s Simply A Smart Marketing Strategy.” (And if your hurdle is authentic self-expression, well there is a solution for that…close at hand) Writing (for Marketing YOU) is best done with a truly authentic voice (yours~not someone who writes for you) that can also pass the Four Way Test. Yes, I know  that last statement is my strongly held opinion.

Developing that “voice” may not happen overnight but working to discover yours and refine it is worth the effort. Then with thoughtful timing of social media efforts and all other marketing, you will see positive results. And like all great relationships, it takes time to develop and may seem like a whole lot of work at first ~ and it’s worth it!

Over the next year plus, Kelly got into a writing and PR rhythm and beneficial things began to happen that were good for the recipients of the Rouser’s support and good for the chapter’s membership base.Guess what grew? (Imagine, your business and you experiencing the same kind of growth and good will!)

I’d like to make a suggestion that I hope you dear readers take to heart and put to work post haste.

Please take a lesson from the principles of 1.) the Four Way Test and 2.) the application of it through Social Media and specifically blogging about the wonderful activities supported by the Rousers of Redmond. If Kelly can do it with the right support, so can you!

Why not let the Four Way Test be a litmus test each time you consider the writing and promotions you will be publishing in the name of growing your business and creating and supporting your online presence and reputation? And let being social while marketing with bold truth and colorful story and authentic intentions be your guiding tenets.

Being Real Inspires. Telling Stories Captivates. Paying It Forward Feels Great.

May you feel comfortable in sharing YOU in your marketing message and writing and know where to go for a champion if support and a push is needed.

P.S. (Funny thing, I’ve been hoping to meet Blaine ever since I heard that story from Kelly the first day I met her and “rumor” has it we are having a cup of coffee sometime soon…I’m counting the days!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you loyal to your “practice”?

(Let us be like Cole Porter at his best!)

Saturday evening I ended up staying in. Original plans to visit a friend’s farm were revised, and thankfully the friend and farmer, was graciously understanding.  I do my best to be loyal to the commitments I make and while dates may change, my intentions are ultimately to be loyal to the plans made.

So Saturday evening was now to consist of dinner and a movie at home. Ever seen the movie “De-Lovely” starring Kevin Kline as Cole Porter and Ashley Judd as Linda Lee, his devoted and understanding wife? There is a large and fine cast of characters, the Cole Porter extended family I’ll call it.  The Porters had a long-term and loyal community, or so the film portrays. We should all be so blessed.

I’ve watched this movie many times: You can do that when you own the DVD. And in past viewings I have always admired the music and the vitality of Cole Porter, Kline’s portrayal of him and the retrospective approach to telling his musical story with the help of an Angel played by Jonathon Wright (whom I also LOVE!). This time though there was something different and special that struck me about the film I had not noted before.

There is a scene rather later in the movie wherein Cole Porter is living apart from Linda Lee who has returned to Paris and is taking time to determine what next for herself. Cole has been composing all night long after attending an opening of a new show, sans his muse. Morning comes and he is called to breakfast by a friend and house guest, but he opts to go for a horseback ride before breakfast. He takes a fall off that horse when the horse rears up over a hornets nest and falls on him, crushing both legs badly. In typical Hollywood style, Linda Lee returns promptly and rallies for Cole’s legs with the doctor and then with Cole over getting back to work. (Cross-checking revealed that Hollywood took some creative license in the Cole Porter timeline…imagine that…) But just take the scene at face value for the sake of the theme of this post. Please. And thanks!

Linda is the epitome of loyalty from the moment she binds herself to Cole in marriage, even knowing his idiosyncrasies. She loves all of him with a constancy and always with elegance and good breeding. She exemplifies tender, firm, loyal and love when it comes time to push him to self-reliance. “I can’t work the pedals,” he cries out in pain as she leaves his music room and encourages him to play the piano after bringing him home from the hospital. Outside the closed door to his study, she sobs as quietly as she can, as he shouts for help because he can’t work the pedals. And it would be years before Cole could work the pedals, but Linda Lee’s gentle insistence and support were always in the wings. And in the film, as in real life, Cole Porter would walk again and play again, though with less agility, but that was the least of Linda’s concerns. She wanted him to keep his spirit and reason for getting up each day, in tact.

There were several striking things that stayed with me this time.

1. Cole Porter wrote music that was forever sharing his inner thoughts and alluded to his personal life. And he wrote them as a man in the business of writing music and lyrics and playing for audiences small and large. What occurred in the songs was a reflection of what was going on his life. He was consistent in this way of being and creating music that remains compelling to me. He was masterful technically and also at sharing his heart’s pains and sorrows, couched in humor and tenderness. WHERE ever did you get the idea that YOU and your stories don’t belong in your writing?

2. Cole Porter had a devoted champion in Linda Lee who sometimes acquiesced to his eccentricities and others times put her foot down (though gently) when something needed changing for the overall betterment of his career. She was at times an anchor and others times a rudder, but always a “muse” that supported him in doing what he did best. She kept him focused and supported. And she had quite the network to expose him to. Do you have people on your team who believe in you and also tell you the truth about your writing and communications? Do they speak up? Do you take to heart what they offer? I’m not talking lip service here!

What struck me this time watching a film I enjoy for the music, the acting and the messages, is how AUTHENTIC Cole Porter was as a lyricist and artist and musician. He shared himself pretty much all the time through his songs.

Could you be like Cole Porter at his best in your writing and/or speaking to create connections that stick for the long term one way or another? Here is hoping that you are up to the task of being real in your self-expression to grow your business and client base WHILE also being a kind human being. That is a win-win!

May your writing and business communications always reflect your story, your heart and with as much transparency as is “just right.”

 

Thumbtack marks the spot for Trusted Local Resources

Recently I joined an online resource and website that exists to help those in need find local and trustworthy sources.

Who wouldn’t want to be found for being a service provider that can be trusted and referred.

I strive to attract the “write” business opportunities and have fun doing what I love. Do you? And presuming you love what you do, DOES your site tell that story? Let’s Talk.

Master Your Voice – Write and Speak Authentically

The Daily Affirmation for the Writer Within You

Today I am a relaxed and agile and effective communicator in all interactions. I cultivate a relaxation that steadies me as I channel both brilliant and clear speaking and writing simple and complex.

And for this I am appreciated.

Who benefits from this state of mind that you can cultivate on demand?

You and Others.

May your day of communication be a day of creative graceful exchanges.

Is Your Mission Clear to Those Who Want to Help You?

Is it?

I’ll start the dialogue I hope this post creates with my own attempt to be CLEAR and have a little fun in the process:

“Deborah Drake is on a Creative Writing Mission (be you writing for business or otherwise) : To get you to love doing your own writing and express yourself confidently and with authenticity and whole heart. Writing in this age of “the world being your oyster,” what will it take for you to chase out “for good” the disbelief that you can’t write as yourself and for yourself and attract GREAT readers and clients? Consider this writing coach like an assignment a la Peace Corps…she will teach you how to not only plant that garden and harvest the yield, but craft your own recipes in a cookbook you can then self-publish and market boldly with enthusiasm that lights up a room. Writing is good for the soul, good for business and therapeutic and to be able to authentically self-express who we are, what we do and what we care about in this age is PARAMOUNT. Can you?”

Now here is the challenge for you reader: Add yours in the comments so that we all who read here can see that you want us to understand who you are, what you do, what you seek to cause and what you care about. What will this do for you and us? Make it easier for us to identify opportunities that fit you. Those who know you want to understand how to help and recommend YOU! Trust me on this.

We MUST, MUST, MUST be able to both succinctly, colorfully and effectively express our mission, vision and purpose…okay, so we don’t “need to” to get work done and earn that living, but it makes doing business a whole lot more fun when we attract the clients that choose us because they “get us” even before they might meet us face to face.

Here is one example of some I love…and it’s not quite a brief bio or mission statement but it is in my opinion a home-run….Randal Hart I want my profile to be like yours when mine grows up!

http://biznik.com/members/randal-dehart-pmp-qpa/about

DO try this writing prompt at home and let yourself go. You’ll surprise yourself I bet.

Set a timer for five minutes (yes, all of five minutes and no more initially). Kitchen timer or your mobile phone or what ever timing device is easiest and at hand. Ready, Set, Write…and don’t over think it. That is why we get stuck people! We obstruct the flow of channelled brilliance when we stop and think, “Oh, does that sound good or make sense?”
Write what wants to be written for a change. Trust that it has pearls of wisdom to exploit! Write what comes naturally and then edit it to a piece that is finessed. Or ask a trusted advisor to assist.

The intention is to generate a statement that is bursting with truth and freshness…and I believe you can do just that!  (And help is always at hand when we ask for it.)

Authentic Writing Provokes…Every Time.

Third Level Listening (Writing) is waiting for you to tune in.

I am literally sitting (or pacing about my living room) on a Saturday morning and listening to the current episode of This American Life feeling fully and enthusiastically inspired and validated that  yes, “Authentic Writing Provokes.”

Yes, I am asking you to do more than read this blog post and beyond that devote fifteen to sixty minutes of your valuable time and take in what “authentic self-expression” sounds and feels like. And yes, it is about the stories of our relationships, but isn’t all of life about relating, really?

I have admired what Ira Glass and This American Life and his staff of however how many does for years…years…years…and with today’s show it was reaffirmed AGAIN!

He is always “designing” shows that feature others telling what is and what is true and it lands. It lands in my body in places that make me tingle. Hair on the back of my neck and electricity running from head to toe. A felt sense of “this is true stuff.”

We can choose to intentionally  “place” on our living and breathing “blogs” and websites…a.k.a. our electronic brochures…our digital “canvasses” of sort…language, stories, facts and shared insights that “hopefully” inspire and call our readers into action that really feels good first for them and makes us cheer them on. We are here to serve. We have our chosen channel, our profession. We seek to attract the reader, the comment, the client, and cause a good change.

May you enjoy “listening” and find inspiration in how to apply it to how and what and why you do what you choose to pursue. ( I get that being more transparent may take time.)

First Level Listening is what we hear or read or see. The Facts.

Second Level Listening is what we initially may interpret as being the meaning of what we experience.

Third Level Listening goes beyond what is obvious and is about what is not heard, seen, said and is EQUALLY important…sometimes more so. (Or it is a presence in the background that has meaning.)

That telephone call that interrupted a dramatic moment of disagreement. Could it be a request to rest and stop the drama.

That bird song you heard. What message did it deliver?

That incoming email from a friend in need. What more is it about?

That song that pipes in at the right moment. What is is trying to tell you?

Be open. Cultivate listening in your writing at the first, second and third levels of “listening.”

I know you can. I know you can. I know you can. (Little Engine that Could makes a GREAT Cheerleader!)

Click your heels three times with me now.

Courageous Writing Can Be Learned

Today’s Writers Circle of 20 plus individuals got asked a question by facilitator me that for some seemed almost difficult to answer intuitively and  instinctively (which was okay too).  Everyone though offered up their best answer:

How courageous is your writing presently?

We had a fair number of 7-8’s, a handful of 6’s, some 4’s and even a few 9’s and one 11-12.

What exactly is Courageous Writing on one’s blog (for starters)?

Do you “think” you write courageously?

What might doing so look like?

And if you have yet to,  what would it take for you to do so?

When I was little, really young, writing privately in Hallmark diaries that locked (securely…right?) I was no holds barred. This continues to this day in those journals I don’t “publish.” And then there is what I create and  “publish” on my business site. But there is a bit of me, deep thoughts and all that seep into my business communiques in all forms.

Are you at all comfortable with letting yourself in to your business writing?

And how much is too much? Would you recognize your growing edge?

That “edge” is where what I call courageous writing occurs.

Communicating my competencies beside my vulnerabilities: It is a time to be discerning.

And it can be learned. With support it comes easier.

I invite you to take on being ever more courageous as you share your expertise and share your stories and if you need support it is so close!

 

To blog or not to blog IS always the question

Weekly does my Writer’s Support Group for the Reticent Blogger meet at 1pm on Tuesdays. This gathering has been going on since March of 2010 and weekly many of the same people come to convene and converse about what is in the way of writing right now!

Or perhaps what success there is to report. I appreciate the mix myself.

What began as six charter attendees, is typically always far more than a baker’s dozen and it’s time that is graciously referred to as “Tuesday Group Therapy,” creativity group therapy and a standing appointment with self for at least a dozen regulars, I lovingly call the “Usual Suspects.”

Diane, Susan, Judy, Judy, Bob, Don, Darylene, John, Sue, Karen, Warren, Will, Paul, Steve, Karin, Mark, Mike, Scott and many others return week after week as they are able to both get what they need and give others the support they require.

And then comes the new attendee, the one who is there for the first time, without a blog for their business or self, or perhaps with a blog they have left unattended for too long. They seem aware of their resistance to the idea of self-publishing anything that is not technically accurate and related to the business. They have concerns and questions about this thing called “blogging.” They wonder…

What is a blog and why have one?

Why bother? What is in it for me and my business goals?

How will readers find me?

So what when they do? (What can I do to inspire comments and dialogue?)

Why would anyone read what I have written (says the person especially who doesn’t see themselves as a good writer)?

This marks the moment I smile and sometimes at Susan or Diane or Sue and say, sounds like time for an “Intervention.” They smile back knowing what comes next. There are many examples of people who have been “assisted” by being the spotlighted one for a while. We love it when they take the idea offered and run with it! ( Go on and check out the hyperlinks, you know you want too!)

Imagine arriving for an open writers support circle, unsure of what to expect and leaving with new found understanding of what having a blog as an extension of your business messaging could mean for you? Or knowing what you will name your blog or focus on and orbit the writing around? Or gaining a sense that your story and your voice and your personality are interesting to at least your initial 20+ readers?

Awareness that we would be a welcome voice in the blogosphere sparks interest in some. Some remain tentative and come back for months before ever launching a WordPress site or a Blog through their website. Still others take action right away, inspired by the generous suggestions and directions graciously given by those in the circle who were once in the same shoes.

The Truth as I See It goes like this: blogging as a Guerrilla Marketing strategy is here to stay, makes sense, can be done efficiently, can be fresh, can be evolving and adapting and did I say Makes Good Sense.

First, we must get over our fears–if only long enough to get started. Participant and writing client, Mike Margolies of The Athlete Within and the Mental Game, recently published a series of compelling pieces on that “Fear We Must Overcome” (as often as we need to). Resistance to new things evaporates for me when I understand why I am afraid and what might be beneficial if I got over my fears. It’s liberating to release fears. And it’s helpful to have a Base Camp to return to for support as needed. Who climbs Mt. Rainier solo?

Second, we will need to create some plan if only a light one for ourselves, to track against. I say let it be based on being Congruent with who one is, Consistent with one’s natural rhythms that get pushed from time to time, and grounded in what is rich Content of interest FIRST to us, and thereafter to our future Ideal Clients/Readers.

Third, may it be a process we choose to trust, engage in fully and in time realize, WE ARE HAVING FUN writing and sharing and sparking dialogue–if only within ourselves and hopefully with others. In time we will gain knowledge about ourselves, our business, our clients, our future clients, and all because we engage in communicating Authentically and with Enthusiasm for the sake of inspiring others and contributing to their Awareness and their own quality of life.

To blog or not to blog, may often be the question and I hope for my students and clients that embracing “blogging” and writing to authentically self-express our interests, creativity and areas of focus and expertise is ultimately what is the chosen path. I read a lot of blogs and comment on many. I get GREAT ideas from what others write and share. I connect people to each other who I feel need to know of each other.

To begin is what it takes. To begin with an end in mind is even better. When you need help getting going, I hope you ask for it. And if you want community, I have a great place for you to find it.

Tuesdays, 1pm. Does it have your name on it?

Must Love Dogs…or Cute Kids…or Both?

“Kids and puppies go viral.” So says one dear writer friend of mine who keeps her finger on the pulse of what goes mercurial within Social Networks.

Is this true?

What other emotional elements trigger your compassion and enthusiasm to pay it forward?

And is it “fair” and authentic to travel on the coat tails of puppies, kittens and cute kids?

Of course, as a writer of the authentic, I strive to share my head and heart and HOPE that people resonate with my offering. As for adding bonus features and accessories such as timely news, and heart touching stories, I am all for it, if it really ties to my thought, my post, my message BUT I draw the line at adding extras that don’t belong.

Have you ever noticed how the original intention of writing shines through? At least it does for me. Perhaps I am at better at reading between the lines, because I read with the intent to do just that. I do this like second nature after all the years. And I tune into what messages clearly come through for me.

Please don’t sell out. Be Real. First with yourself. Then with others. It will work.

What’s the bottom line for me and what I strive to co-create with you?

Authentic Writing Provokes.

A Writing Coach's Credo

As a Writing Coach and Catalyst, I use each interaction I have with you to leave you feeling supported, to instill confidence and ultimately help you accomplish your writing goals. With gentle candor and honesty and compassion, in tandem with my self-confidence and writing experience I will earn your trust and establish rapport, so that critique and suggestions are given in a positive and insightful way that will be “heartfelt”, “heard/read” and understood.

I believe, what is “understood” can be integrated more rapidly than what is “resisted” or confusing. I first and always check in to find out how YOU (all of YOU) is feeling and what pressures or deadlines you may be operating under. Acknowledgement of what is going on is key; it naturally reduces tension and creates an environment where work can be done productively and confidence can be cultivated.

I believe effective communication to be a learned skill that can be cultivated at every age.

And some people seem naturally better at certain skills, but REMEMBER, initially we all were taught spelling, basic grammar and the guidelines for effective communication (and hopefully by a kind teacher or two).

It is the years of enthusiastic practice and commitment that have made me a better writer and a more intuitive writing coach.

It is my intention to convey in a gentle and direct way to you, I see you as capable, resourceful and creative. My hope would be that this as the foundation for our dialogue alleviates some of the stress or frustration of “writer’s block” or a deadline you are up against. And if you do not consider yourself a strong writer, I would suggest with heartfelt sincerity that a strong writer resides within you and to welcome that in or welcome it back in.

And if, for example, you asserted that spelling was not your strength, I would ask what resources did you rely upon when writing and editing: A dictionary, thesaurus, an easy guide to grammar? Love Spellcheck and Celebrate its existence in Word! Bookmark your favorite online resources! And let’s agree to one last proofread or one by a trusted editor in a friend or spouse? I will always offer resources and share best practices of my own also.

The idea of a constructive critique in my mind begins with asking what does one think they have already done well and what is good? And then we add to that list what I as the writing coach see is strong and effective. And next ask what needs improving and what concerns you? With awareness, you can only become a better writer.

I believe focusing on the positives present will allow for learning to occur more easily in areas that need refinement. A confident writer, who trusts they have the basics in place, and has an editing practice to catch the last typos and grammar issues may take more risks and stretch themselves creatively—and have more fun writing in the process. There will be more natural energy to do so.

The coaching model as a means to improve writing skills will inspire more natural enthusiasm for assignments and everyday writing, I believe.

Here is the theory that I agree with entirely:

What is my idea and my choice, on my timeline, is a set of actions I will be far more committed to and follow through on consistently and with more passion and enthusiasm. I will push myself and hold myself accountable. THIS HOLDS TRUE FOR YOU AS WELL.

I am here for you to instill confidence and inspire commitment to best practices for improving writing for business or pleasure.

As the avid writer that I am, I truly look forward to supporting you and the writing you wish to do. Thank you for the opportunity to partner with you as you create great writing designed by you.