1., 2., 3.

9 Aug

David Ogilvy.

I am an organizational freak, which is probably why I love making lists. I typically trash any and all notes as soon as they’re no longer of any use to me, but Lists of Note has inspired me to hang on to some of them – if I looked back on my lists in the future, I’m sure I’d either be A. appalled or B. intrigued by these often random memos to myself.

So speaking of Lists of Note, it’s a site that’s worth a browse. It offers a little of this  (Houdini’s diva rider) and a little of that (I love Woody Guthrie’s New Year’s resolution of “Wash teeth if any”), and many of the lists provide really interesting insight into the lives, minds, hearts, etc. of some of history’s most remarkable individuals.

One of the lists that intrigued me the most, obviously, was ad man David Ogilvy’s internal memo titled How to Write. The advice given in his memo to employees of Ogilvy & Mather is aligned with a lot of the advice I’ve received over the years by my more respected colleagues and mentors, but I’ve always found it interesting how quickly people forget some of these major tips (myself included). For instance:

“Write the way you talk. Naturally.” Do you naturally say “let’s synthesize this information?” No. No you do not.

“Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.” Also, “impactful” is not a word, members of the marketing universe.

And finally: “Never write more than two pages on any subject.” If you can’t say it in two, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Same goes for PowerPoint slides.

And now, dear friends, I am off my soapbox.

Happy list browsing.


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