Archive for October, 2009

Force the doubt right out

October 16, 2009

The question came up the other day, “What do I do when I start to question my own talent?”  And “Does anyone else ever go through this?”  My original answer was everyone goes through that, but after further thought, I discovered a common but little known confusion that changed my answer.  The confusion is this; talent and ability are two completely different things.

Talent is a natural motivation to accomplish something in a certain area.  Writers have a natural motivation to write; engineers have a proclivity for math, and structure.  You can have a talent to do something, but you may not have a great ability, which just means you have to work a little harder.

I had a friend in high school that was a perfect example of this.  His true ability was comedy, and writing, but he really loved to draw comics.  It used his sense of humor, and his writing skill, but his art ability was mediocre, so he would spend hours practicing his drawing.  Eventually, he became exceptional, and was able to draw comics better than his older brother, who actually did have a natural ability.

Talent can be such a driving force, that it can seem to be an obsession, except it doesn’t come from an irrational fear.  When I was younger, I was told that my drive to write was a waste of time, and that writing is nothing more than a hobby that only a few special people can make any real money, so I suppressed the drive.  Have you ever felt like something was missing from your life; like you are miserable, but you don’t know why?  This is what I felt like for all those years I didn’t write.  I lived my life by going through the motions, but they were just empty.

The moment I started writing again, it was like someone broke down a wall to reveal the spirit that had been blocked for years.  Many people say that if you don’t use your talent that you lose it, but it’s not true. You can hide it, and ignore it for years, but the moment you start using it, it comes back. While you may be able to hide your talent, you can’t truly question it.  What you can question, however, is your ability.

Ability, according to the “American Heritage Dictionary”, is the power to do something.  I believe this is one area that, at times, should be questioned. Questions can force you to look at your current level, and begin to seek answers on how to improve.  Those answers will eventually lead us to work harder at improving our quality.

In case you haven’t noticed, I never used the word “doubt”.  The reason for this is simple.  When you question your ability, you are seeking answers that can keep you going in the right direction, but when you doubt your ability, you are telling yourself “I just don’t have what it takes”, and that can lead to giving up.

If you do find yourself doubting, the answer is to keep going and “force the doubt right out” of your mind, it’s not doing you any good.


Use responsibly…

October 10, 2009

We all have those kinds of friends; you know the kind.  They say they’re going to keep in touch, and you do receive e-mails, but instead of actually communicating anything, all they do is forward jokes, and perverted pictures that they assume you find tasteful.  O K, maybe that’s just some of my friends, and they may just be good friends when you’re face to face, but when they send e-mails they are a totally different person.  So this leaves me with the question, what does that say about them, and their view of me?

When you send e-mails, it’s important to think about what you’re communicating to the recipient.  If all you send are humorous forwards, you are saying that you have no real creativity, and that you prefer to be a pest rather than a true friend.  What it says you think of me is either I’m too serious, and need to lighten up, or you think I’m too self-centered to take anything seriously, and too stupid to understand anything higher than third grade humor.

If all you send are religious forwards, you are showing me that you are a religious fanatic that wants to toot your own piousness to everyone who hasn’t already been turned off by your holier-than-thou attitude.  That shows that you think I am a heathenish sinner, who will never make it into heaven unless I forward your message to 10 of my closest friends; or that I’m incredibly gullible to fall for another chain e-mail.

I’m not going to say much about what it says if all you send are pornographic e-mails, except you should be ashamed of yourself you pervert. (You know who you are)

In all seriousness, forwards do have their place, and they can be useful in communicating something you found exciting, or humorous, but that shouldn’t be all you send.  E-mails are designed to give you a full range of tools to express yourself, and if all you do is forward you aren’t giving your recipient the chance to know the real you.

If you do type real messages make sure to use the spell check, or your spelling can be a distraction from what you’re trying to say.  Your grammar doesn’t have to be perfect, but you should at least punctuate.  Sending a message with no punctuation is not only harder to read, but it sends the message that you are an uneducated hick, or at least an executive (just kidding).

I realize the English language is being infused with a plethora (I just love that word) of abbreviations, but unless you know your recipient is up on all the jargon, keep it to a minimum.  It can become very frustrating trying to decipher such language, and the point could be lost.

The best thing you can do is proofread your e-mail, and make sure it communicates exactly what you want it to say.  Used correctly, e-mails can become your best way to communicate, beat only by face-to-face talking.  Use it responsibly.

Something on subject for a good laugh: what your e-mail address says about you, just go to this link.


Making your business name stand out

October 2, 2009

We’ve all heard the saying, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”, but when we start a business, we don’t put enough thought into the first thing people see, our business name.  There are many things to do when you start a business, and the name is at the top of the priority list, but unless you choose one that stands out, you won’t get enough business to succeed. So how do you make your name stand out?  There are quite a few things you can do to make it stand out, but here are a few tips that might help.

The first thing you should do when naming your company is to make it say something about your business.  This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many first time business owners get this wrong.  To have a business called “McKenzie and associates” doesn’t tell you anything about what the business is without a follow up description like, “legal services”.  If you want to stand out more, you can make it even more specific.  There is a business here in Maine called “Ankle & Foot associates.”  If you have foot or ankle problems, you don’t have to call dozens of businesses to see if they can help, this name is an obvious choice.

Another thing to consider when coming up with a name is whether your name is unique.  When I originally chose my name, it was “Bradford Photography.”  After looking it up online, I found over 100 companies with the same name.  If I wanted my business name to stand out I had to come up with something a little different.  My business had more than photography; it also had writing and photographic design as part of it so I went with productions.  The only problem with “Bradford Productions” is that Bradford is too common a name to make it unique, so I turned to something from my area.

I live one block from the “Portland Breakwater Light.”  That name would be too long for a business name but it has a shorter, less known, nickname, “Buglight”.  I liked the sound of the name, so I tested it.  “Buglight Productions” had a nice sound to it, and when I looked it up there was only one other business with that name, which in my book makes it unique.  This brings me to my third tip; keep it short and simple.

If I had used “Portland Breakwater Light Productions”, it would have been hard for people who used my services to spread the word, and remember the name for future services.  The longer the name, the easier it is to forget.  With only two words in the name, it becomes much easier to recall.  You will need that advantage if you want to spread your business name.

Remember this one thing, the name of your business, if chosen well, can become your best advertisement, and a great way to make a first impression.