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Posts Tagged “Woody Allen”

American business journalist and thinker Henry Hazlitt once wrote:

“A man with a scant vocabulary will most certainly be a weak thinker. The richer and more copious one’s vocabulary and the greater one’s awareness of fine distinctions and subtle nuances of meaning, the more fertile and precise is likely to be one’s thinking. Knowledge of things and knowledge of the words for them grow together. If you do not know the words, you can hardly know the thing.”

Words are wonderful.

They are much more useful in business than they get credit for — particularly in executive sales. But words are not much emphasized or particularly valued in our technology hegemonous world. Sales articles are crammed full of an overwhelming amount of information about psychology, motivation, technology, social media, ROI, SEO, etc., yet seemingly never mention that simple cornerstone of human communication-words. Vocabulary. It’s as if words are unimportant or irrelevant to a modern woman or man. Words are for poets and philosophers, academics and lawyers, journalists and judges. Words are old-fashioned. Words are of the past, supplanted by a world of Twitter abbreviation (OMG, NRN, LOL, TMI, L8R, WTF, etc).

This is utterly wrong. And it is particularly not true about high-end, entrepreneurial business development, which was the specialty of my former executive sales outsourcing firm Corporate Rain International. Word usage and proficiency is important in branding a tonality of equal business stature when selling to real strategic corporate decision makers. CEO’s are more well-educated, thoughtful people, trained in the best schools in the world. Or, if they don’t have that specific educational pedigree, are fierce autodidacts. Either way, they are usually people of probing intellect and subtle ability to express and communicate nuance.

Corporate decision makers like to do business with their peers. They want to deal with people of equal business stature. A comfort level with precise and sophisticated word usage is one way of immediately establishing that tonality.

This does not mean to pepper your business conversations with artificially grandiose phrases, fustian excess or arbitrary verbal whimsy. Precise vocabulary can be used simply. But words bring shadings of specificity and descriptive depth, even a sensual enlivening, to the most prosaic of entrepreneurial conversations. (Also, by using new words, I actually learn them).

Last week one of my friends asked me to please write a posting not requiring use of a dictionary. Nah. It would remove too much color and delight. As Woody Allen puts it, “I call him a sadistic, hippophilic, necrophile, but that would be beating a dead horse.”

Thanks Woody.

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5572736309_16a63bc96e_oOne of the many failures in my life was an attempt to sing opera.  Yup.  I spent almost three years studying it in my early thirties.  I was not even close to good enough to make a living at it for a plethora of reasons.  However, I loved it.  I always felt singing was better than therapy.  That is, if you wanted to get centered, if you want to reduce stress, if you wanted to induce creativity.

There is increasing scientific evidence that music brings not only aesthetic joy, but also actual real world success.  Multiple studies have linked music study and music performance to success.

In an article in the NY Times (Sunday Review, 10/13/13) titled, “Is Music the Key to Success?”, Joanne Lipman makes a compelling annecdotal case that it is.  To cite just a few examples consider the following serious musicians:

Ms. Lipman’s list of successful business folks with music backgrounds seems endless.  She notes you will find musicians at the top of almost any industry.  Their success is not a coincidence, according to Ms. Lipman.  Alan Greenspan says, “I can tell you as a statistician that the connection [between music and success] exists.  The crucial question is:  why does that connection exist?”  Paul Allen’s answer is that music “reinforces your ability to create.”  James Wolfensohn calls music a “hidden language” that enhances the ability to connect disparate or even contradictory ideas.  Or take Steve Hayden who says his cello performance background helps him to work collaboratively.  “Ensemble playing trains you, quite literally, to play well with others, to know when to solo and when to follow.”

4786676586_9f10db3066_oAs to the particular value of singing, Stacy Horn wrote a lovely article last summer for Time Magazine entitled “Singing Changes Your Brain.”  She notes that when you sing musical vibration moves through you, altering your physical and emotional landscape.

Much like Dr. Amy Cuddy (Harvard) and Dr. Carol Goman (Forbes) on the effect of body positions and body language on your sense of well-being and business efficacy, she notes many studies that show a lower level of cortisol (stress related hormone) and higher levels of endorphins and oxytocin in singers.

In a recent article by Chris Loersch and Nathan Arbuckle in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Nov. 13, 2013, pp. 777-798) it is even hypothesized that the pleasure of singing together is our evolutionary reward for joining together cooperatively.

As Stacy Horn sums up, “Singing is cheaper than therapy, healthier than drinking, and certainly more fun than working out.”  Thank you Stacey.

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