The Good & Bad of (business) Metaphors

Jun 09

So, Judging By My Emails…

I stirred up a quiet little hornets-nest-of-doubt in more than a few people last week. The culprits? This post about metaphors-gone-amok, and this other one, about murdering-your-darlings.

I apparently left some readers wondering if I meant their metaphors, mascots and witty wordplay were overdone.

Oops.  Sorry about that!  Let’s get this cleared up with a Q&A session, ok?

It's Another Flourish!

What’s A (Business) Metaphor?

It’s just a metaphor that’s used in your business… some sort of  symbolic representation or illustration that helps you or your customers better relate to what you’re doing.

I learned about the art of metaphoring from Havi Brooks’s blog, where she’s developed it into an awesome system. She in turn credits Suzette Haden Elgin for it.  But wherever it originated, it’s pure fantabulous for getting past the stuck of formal business terms and structures.

It’s also sometimes an awesome way to make your website or business stand out from the crowd, becoming what Hugh MacLeod calls Social Objects

It's Another Flourish!

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Murder Your Darlings: Dangerous Creativity Meets Rosemary’s Baby

Jun 03

It's A Flourish!

This was originally posted on MindTweaks, June 12, 2007.  But it’s  relevant to yesterday’s post, and I want you all to see it, so go on, Google… penalize me for duplicate content! I’ll take one for the team! Voila!

I’ve forgotten where I first ran across the  brilliant, dangerous advice to“Murder Your Darlings,” but I’m in good company, it seems.  A quick web-search shows that it’s been attributed to Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Twain, Wilde, and about a quadzillion other word-smith serial-killers.

The most likely source is Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, who, in 1914 or so, quipped:

“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate
a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it
— whole-heartedly —  and delete it before sending
your manuscript to press.  Murder your darlings.”

Your “darlings” are those brilliant strokes of your writer-ly wit. They’re the most astoundingly beautiful interplay of paint that ever appeared on your canvas, the best and brightest ideas that you as a Creative have ever had. Darlings are our indigo-children, the fruit of our labors, the idiot-savants we nurture and coddle and pet-pet-pet, the ones we keep under our pillow so we can admire their shine, even in the dark of night.

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Put down That Metaphor, Ma’am!

Jun 02


Monstrous Metaphor, In Need of Murder!“Now step slowly away…

“That’s right, keep your hands where I can see ‘em! … Dispatch, I’m going to need some backup here. This could get ugly… Ma’am, I said KEEP YOUR HANDS WHERE I CAN… What are you doing? No, for gawd’s sake, DON’T FEED IT… Aye!! Officer Down, OFFICER DOWN!!

(unintelligible screaming)…

Don’t let this happen to you!
Keep your metaphors spayed, neutered, and curbed.
It’s not just good business, it’s the law!

It's Another Flourish!

That little story up there?

The one that’s supposed to be a clever opening to get your attention?

It’s dreadful, isn’t it?

Yes, I know some of you want to throw sweet mother hen “Cluck, cluck, it’s not so bad, dearie…” reassurances at me now, but trust me,  it’s bad.

How do I know it’s bad?

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Update x5: Live-Blogging Past The Fear: Ze Plan! Ze Plan!

May 24

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Ok, so here’s the deal.

There’s this fun, little seriously no-big-deal  offering/thing/whatever that I want to do here on the Circus. But I’ve been stuck in fears about feeling overwhelmed by it, and not being able to follow through.

One way to lessen that concern? Plan ahead, with clear action steps, and do as much of the work as possible ahead of time.

Trouble is – I’m not a big planner.  I don’t like the process of planning, and I don’t much like plans – they feel limiting to me, rather than supportive.  I’m more about the  spontaneous, go-with-the-whims sort of productivity.

So I’m experimenting with spontaneous, go-with-the-whims planning tonight.  I’m going to live blog throughout the evening, as I put together the experimental structure to support this.. thing.. I want to do.  (And if you pay attention, you’ll have a good idea of what the thing is, and why I think it’ll be so much fun)

First Step?

Get prepared. Get the spouse situated with something to eat so he doesn’t distract me.  Get myself something to snack on too. Awesome.  I’ll be back!

Update 1

Ok, here we go. Step one of the actual planning? Divide what needs to be done in sections.

The mini fun thing.

  • Promotional Material
  • Deliverable Development
  • Actual Deliverables
  • The Schedule
  • Follow ups

The not-as-mini still fun thing

  • The offering
  • The actual deliverables
  • Follow ups

Hmm, that works for me so far.

Gotta go check on the chicken I put in the oven!

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Now, hmm… Let’s take apart the Promo Material stuff.  (This little project is basically a promotional thing itself, btw, so I need to resist the urge to overdo it)

This won’t be quite in the right order, but that’s ok.

1. Promo Materials

  • An introductory, explanatory, coming soon post
  • The actual offer goes-live
  • A sales page or post with the actual offer
  • Re-tweetable tweets (since I tend to use all 140 characters)
  • A follow up post
  • Illustrations for all of the above.

That worked! Next step..

2. Deliverable Development

  • Selecting potential members of the menagerie
  • Decide how to do the pairing up with the Quirksters
  • Finding photos/drawings of menagerie members as references
  • Basic template
  • Individual drawings
  • Digitizing the drawings
  • Coloring the drawings
  • Assembling the drawing into The Cool Thing.
  • Storing the actual drawings somewhere safe
  • Storing the files somewhere safe, too.

3. Actual Deliverables

  • The individual graphics
  • The accompanying text
  • An email template for sending them
  • The full monty menagerie art & page
  • Prints/Zazzle stuff available? Gauge the interest.

This is still fun. Who knew that I plan better with an audience?

Gotta go see if the chicken is cooled off now. (making chicken salad, too)

Mini Update 2.5:

Storms just got threatening here, so I’m going to focus on staying safe for a bit. Will continue later, assuming I don’t lose power!

Mini Update 2.5.5:

All safe, and all clear…  but the scary weather wore me out!  So that’s it for tonight. More planning tomorrow!

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Ok, so..  I’m back!

My best live-blogging intentions were interrupted first by nasty tornado & hailstorms, then the need for sleep.  But we survived, and so it’s back to planning. Let’s see if i can get my groove back…

Where was I? Oh yeah! The Schedule! I’m going to skip dates and times for now, and just focus on the order in which this stuff goes public:

4. The Schedule Order:

  • Day 1: Preliminary coming soon post & Tweets
  • Day 2: Offer/Sales page, Promotional Post, Tweets
  • Day 3: The Display Page of the Fun Thing as it’s built & Tweets
  • Day 5: Follow up Post & Tweets
  • Day 6: Follow up emails  for the participants 😉
  • Day 7: Announcement of the ongoing related offer thing
  • Day 9: Fine Tune final offer sales page thingy
  • From then on: Slowly deliver on the full offering thing.

This is a lot more complicated than expected, and in some ways, I know I’m overdoing it.  I may simplify this as I work through it, but..  this is actually more complicated than I thought.  No wonder I couldn’t just “throw it together” and I had concerns about being able to keep up…  to do it right, it’s a week of publishing, which means a lot of prep work!

Cleary, I tend to underestimate the complexity of stuff.

I’ve also gotten some cool inspirations & clarifications on the idea while planning.

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The next section I listed was “Follow ups”, but maybe it should be entitled “Follow throughs”? This is the bit I’m afraid I won’t do, which “isn’t how you run a business”.   I can feel the tension and fear and gremlins-in-the-belly feeling that’s triggered just by typing around it’s edges.

Deep breaths.

So, the first “follow through” is not just getting the offer up, but standing behind it, and staying enthused about it. As enthused as I would be about someone else’s product, when I’d personally found it solved huge problems for me, and I was 110% behind it. (Yes, I know. Impossible percentage. It’s hyperbole, so hush!)

(Which, btw, brings me to what I want for my readers fans and peers… I want you and your things to be at such a place of incredibleness *for me personally* that I’ll be behind them 170%, and can’t keep my mouth shut about them. Ok, back to planning.)

So.

  1. Present with a flourish!
    Get the offer up.
    Stand behind it confidently and with enthusiasm.
    Check. Got it.
  2. Produce miracles from your magic hat!
    Produce the mini-digital-deliverable thingies confidently, with happyhappyjoyjoy absurdity.  In a timely manner, but without freaking or killing yourself.   Circus fans don’t want a neurotic ghost for a ring-mistress.  I don’t need to do a poll to be pretty sure of that.
  3. Put the community front and center!
    Put together the public thingamabobber display page to feature the community members and the wack-ed-ness of it all.  This is the point, remember? Community.  Sharable. Fun.  Stay open to fun extras to add to the display page. Spend extra time on polishing it.
  4. Individual thank yous for participants.
    Fun ones. Please. Thank you. You’re welcome. And yes, if I’d create a damn mailing list, that’d help 😉
  5. Present the full offer, with flourishes, pride and enthusiasm. My people deserve that. This is a fun thing, and if I’m all selfconscious about it, it takes the fun out. If people feel like they have to prop up my confidence, that takes the pure fun out of it.
  6. Repeat. Lather. Rinse!

And another note:

Remember to put a link to the thing in the sidebar, post footers (RSS too!) and change the top menu to allow for a shop.

There. That wasn’t so hard. I only hyperventilated six times 😉

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The last section is about the not-so-mini offering – and honestly? It’s optional.  Sure, if I did things “right”, the whole point of this would be to promote and sell the bigger, more expensive thing.

But honestly, I’m not ready to face that yet.  So on that bit, I think I’ll play it by ear. See how I feel.

The plan?  Write up no more than a simple paragraph, with the price and a description.  Stick it on the offering page. See how it goes.  Put it at a big enough discount that if I stumble, it’ll be ok.  Really.

The mini, super fun version should give me a good idea of what will be doable for a “real” version, and what it’s benefit will be.

In other words, don’t fret about it yet.  But make it possible for people who are interested to sign up.

The Next Step?

The doing.  Not sure yet if I’ll live-blog that, or not.  I need a break before I decide, but I’d like to at least give some sneak peaks into it!

As for how I’m going to accomplish the doing, well…. not in any sort of order, that’s for sure!  I’ll probably start with the “Deliverable Development” section, break it into clearer action steps, and do them one at a time, since that’s where the actual fear is centered…

For now, I need a serious break away from this computer and all the plannings.  Even so, I think you can expect more soon, Quirkiteers!It's Another Flourish!

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Of Woo, Fear-Facing, & Action Plans: Live Blogging Session, coming Soon!

May 24

A Whole Lotta Nothing Remember About a Week Ago?

You know, when I wrote about Woo, and I promised to move past my fear of it, and do this really cool thing I wanted to do here?

Remember how I told you to watch the blog carefully for a few days, because there was a time element involved? And remember how NOTHING HAPPENED?

Now, Fast Forward to Today..

As you know (or don’t know, because I always forget to promote it), every Monday, I host a chat on Twitter, via the hashtag #Emmit. And each week, a marvelous group of Quirkipreneurs gather to discuss right-brained, boundary-expanding approaches to typical business tasks and topics. (It’s turned out to be a mind-blowingly effective testing ground for new stuff. You should check it out. But not now, because it won’t happen again till next Monday.)

Yesterday’s chat? Yeah. It was one of the mind-blowing ones for me. See, I forgot about it until the last minute, so I had to pick a topic on the fly.

“Fear…” I thought. “There’s been some talk going on about fear and business lately… ok, let’s talk about that. Whew, topic found!”

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When The Woo Goes Bad: “I Was A Teen-Wolfette!”

May 18

The other day, I promised to share some of my woo-gone-wild stories. Here’s the first of them.

A Wolf. The Moon. And a Girlie-Bow.

Once upon a time…

…I spent a bit of time hanging around online with alternative spirituality peeps. And by  alternative spirituality peeps, I mean people interested in out-of-the-mainstream belief systems, not marshmellow treats in the shape of crystals and dream catchers.

Because that would be just too weird.

Most of the folks in that crowd were lovely, sensible people, but there were a few outright wonky individuals, who took their woo a little too seriously. These most serious of the serious, strangest of the strange folks could be found online; these are their stories. Names and details have been changed to protect the innocent and wacked out. And yes, even though the stories are somewhat tragic, it’s ok to giggle, so long as it’s an affectionate giggle.

Ahem. Story #1:

“I Was A Teenage Wolfette”

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The Fortune Teller’s Tent: Circus Card #2

May 13

Last week …

I challenged myself to post one original tarot-like card a week. So of course, yesterday, the cat shorted out my scanner by spilling a cup of coffee, and I lost my sketchbook for the thousandth time, making this week’s entry a bit more difficult than expected. So this week’s card is extra rough – colored  quickly by hand, photographed with the digital camera.

The show must go on!

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