TODAY is Sunday. Time-travel and the entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, I love being location-independent, as long as I stay properly oriented to time and place. I hope I didn’t disorient too many of my readers when you woke up to yesterday’s blog, one of my regular “Song for a Sunday” series.

As I sat down to write this I realized that TODAY is Sunday, which must mean yesterday was some other day. Saturday? I understand that’s the way those things usually go.

How could I make such an egregious error? Let’s blame:

a) the three-day conference I was at that started on Thursday. Even the conference leader kept referring to its final day as Sunday.

and

b) the cold and flu that knocked me flat for the—well, I was going to say “the better part of the week,” but believe me there was nothing “better” about it.

Entrepreneur-ing While Sick

entrepreneur-ing while sickEntrepreneur-ing While Sick is like the IronMan of Entrepreneuring. So where the eff is my gold medal?

I suppose it could have been worse: I’d pre-written most of my blog posts, so I wasn’t required to write cogently until late in the week. But I couldn’t think cogently, either, and that was truly annoying.

I cancelled a one-on-one coaching because I was afraid I’d turn my writer’s lovely piece into word salad. But I had to interview someone for one of my corporate clients—haven’t re-read my notes yet; they should be interesting.

And I managed to lead a Weekly What discussion group on Monday, if you use “lead” in the loosest possible sense. At one point my brain got as stopped-up as my bronchial tubes; one of my writers had to supply the word I was searching for, sliding in a gently whispered: “adjectives.”

Adjectives! What, I ask you, is a writer who forgets adjectives? Well, I don’t know about “forgets,” but James Baldwin managed to craft some mighty descriptive paragraphs with only one adjective or adverb per 100 words or so. That’s genius.

“Genius” was not my problem on Monday. Nor Tuesday. Nor Wednesday, nor…you get the drift. I did manage some insights at the conference the night before last. Which I now understand was Friday.

I’m grateful to be on the mend now. And grateful to have patient and understanding clients—every entrepreneur should be so blessed. And now I have something else to be grateful for:

It’s Sunday.


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Keep going — Confucius meets SEO

"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop." Or, Confucius meets SEOI wanted to open with this indisputably wise quotation from the Chinese philosopher Confucius. But what happens when Confucius meets SEO?

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop”—SEO hates negative keywords. And you can’t get much more of a “stop word” than stop. But translated into a positive frame, the wisdom turns bland and boring, essentially:

“Keep going.”

It’s a good thing for all of us that Confucius never had to deal with SEO. And yet, somehow, his work has gone viral enough that’s still being quoted more than 2500 years after his death. Now that’s genius.

Of course, his name wasn’t really Confucius. Wikipedia notes that as a Latinization of Kǒng Fūzǐ (孔夫子, if you want it in the original). Over the centuries the philosopher has picked up a number of posthumous nicknames,. My favorite is the first, coined in the first century AD: “Laudably Declarable Lord Ni.” May we all be “laudably declarable,” lord or not.

But I digress

Whew! Almost went down a rabbit hole there. I’m sure there’s many a good story safari to be had in the life and wisdom of Kǒng Fūzǐ. But I’m more interested in this particular piece of wisdom:

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”

I always feel like I’m going too slowly. I’m rarely satisfied with my own progress. My patron saint is St. Hurry-Up. Well, St. Expeditus—Santo Expedito in Portuguese. I first discovered him in Brazil, though why he’s not widely worshiped in New York remains a complete mystery to me.

So I feel like I’m never going fast enough. And yet to my clients and friends, I seem to be in constant motion—thinking, creating, shipping (to use Seth Godin’s term). No matter how gummed up I feel inside, I make sure Ship Happens. I’ve even set goals for my vacation. Not work goals, but still—goals.

Hey, at least I’m taking a vacation (next month!). That hasn’t happened in—wow!—probably a decade, since I went to Brazil and discovered St. Hurry-Up. So I’m, um, slowly making progress on slowing down. I guess I should count that as a win.


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How do you know if something is a bad idea? — Frequent Questions

Q: How do you know if something is a bad idea?
A: Have you tried asking it?

bad ideaSome days I think the definition of a bad idea must be any idea that originated in my head. I’ll bet you’ve had days like that too. Especially if you’re a writer.

But my answer above isn’t 100% snark. If the idea that seemed so promising when you wrote it down last night (last week, last year) seems somewhere between clichéd and imbecilic today—well, it might be. You could be seeing it clearly and objectively for the first time. Or maybe the moment of clarity happened when you created the idea, and you’ve just stopped trusting yourself in the interim.

So take that idea out for a spin. Spend 15 minutes writing about it. Outfit it with the best words you know how to create. Then wait. Close the file or put the papers in a drawer overnight. Look at it again in the morning. That old idea just might surprise you.

The way-ay-ting is the hardest part

Please notice that sentence in the previous paragraph—two words right about in the middle:

Then wait.

Whether you start with a bad idea or good idea, do not judge your first draft immediately after writing it.

That’s one of the key principles I talk about when I teach revision techniques. And even though my writers have heard me say it a million times, they still succumb to temptation.

Especially if you’re the kind of person who judges your work harshly—yes, I’m talking to you, Dear Writer-Who-Thinks-All-Your-Ideas-are-Bad—you need to get some distance from your work before you make any decisions about it.

You need to trust your instincts, but if your instincts tell you to trash every idea you come up with, you might need to recalibrate. Find a trusted friend, a teacher, someone whose writing you admire, and run the idea by them. Chances are, you’ll have a glint of a good idea in there somewhere. Just keep looking for it, as objectively as possible.


If you’re secretly attached to your files full of unfinished writing …if you enjoy collecting rejection emails…if you worry that effective marketing would generate too much income for your business DO NOT register for my VIP class on Revision.

“I have no regrets” — Ana Marie Cox across the political divide

When Ana Marie Cox launched her podcast “With Friends Like These,” she promised her listeners “uncomfortable conversations” with people who have different points of view. Last week’s podcast delivered that fifty times over. Cox took her microphone to Trump’s campaign rally in Iowa and interviewed a range of people waiting to get inside. The episode’s title tells the sad, sad story. It’s a quote from one of the people who voted for him: “I have no regrets.”

Ana Marie Cox
Ana Marie Cox’s Instagram profile photo

Before I get into the content of the interviews, I need to state an incontrovertible truth:

Ana Marie Cox has the patience of a saint.

I mean, I know she’s a longtime journalist—just let go this week from MTV News—but she listened without comment to some of the most idiotic things I’ve ever heard. Without comment. I mean, the woman has the “uh-huh” of a seasoned therapist.

“Some of the most idiotic things I’ve ever heard.” And I’m not talking about the older man who thinks we should send gang members to the moon—literally. Or maybe Mars.

As I recall, more than one person cited the riots in Berkeley as a sign of just how out-of-control and intolerant the left is. “As I recall” because while everyone should listen to this episode, it would be cruel and unusual punishment to make anyone listen to it twice.

Ana Marie Cox: the patience of a saint, the microphone of a journalist

Intolerance runs rampant through these interviews, though there was far less racism and sexism on display than I’d expected. Perhaps the interviewees were on their best behavior. One businessman worried about “retaliation” from the left if his identity were revealed. Apparently conservatives are being targeted, boycotted even. Apparently it’s rude of us to inject politics into business. Those folks who refuse to bake wedding cakes for LGBT couples, or the landlord asking his tenants to show their citizenship papers—they’re not expressing political views through their business. Right? Ana Marie Cox just listened. A saint, I tell ya.

Cox asked several of her subjects which policy of Trump’s they supported most strongly. I nearly did a spit-take when one woman said, emphatically: “His agricultural policies.”

His what?

Seriously, listen to this podcast. It’s important to know who we’re dealing with. The world is calcifying into “us” and “them” with no apparent regard for objective truth.

Of course, I firmly believe the truth resides with “us.” The problem is, the other side believes they’re the “us.” And the more we push against them, the more they’ll cling to their position.

Who wants to be shown to be wrong?

Thanks to Ana Marie Cox for putting her patience to the test so we could hear people on the other side of this political Grand Canyon. Now all we need to do is figure out how to talk to them.


If you’re secretly attached to your files full of unfinished writing …if you enjoy collecting rejection emails…if you worry that effective marketing would generate too much income for your business DO NOT register for my VIP class on Revision.

Patience, grasshopper

I’m not the kind of gal who laughs in church. But that’s exactly what I did when our friend took us to his parish church in Rio de Janeiro and I came face to face with my patron saint.

I hadn’t known he was my patron saint—in fact, I’d never heard of him before—but the name at the base of his statue translated from the Portuguese loud and clear: Santo Expedito (translation: Saint Hurry-Up) or St. Expeditus, for those of you who like your saints in Latin.

I am many things, many of which are good. But one thing I am not is patient.

So I am working on it. They say meditation will help. When I get past five minutes on my own, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, Santo Expedito sits on my desk, holding up his cross that says “Hodie” (translation: Today, dammit).