Just the right words. Just the right time.
Three stories to inspire you to SAY them.

 
 
 

When Gil was 37 years old, the doctors told him, “It’s cancer, and it’s bad. You have one month to live.”

He accepted the diagnosis, and prepared himself to die.

The stranger lying in the hospital bed next to Gil had other ideas.

“What are you in for?” The stranger asked.

“Cancer,” said Gil. “I have one month.”

“That’s what they said to me, too, when I was about your age. Guess how old I am now?” he asked.

“65?” said Gil. The stranger looked youthful and vibrant.

“Nope,” the stranger said. “I’m 85 years old. I’m in here for just a few days, and then I’ll be out. So will you. Hang in there, kid.”

That was nearly forty years ago. Gil is very much alive.

Thanks to a stranger who said just the right words, at just the right time.

 


 

Kevin was exhausted and sick of being a teacher.

Nobody respected him, most of his students were hormone-addled terrors, and retirement felt like the only option.

Then he went to a rock concert — starring his all-time favorite musician. He wore a t-shirt that he’d printed himself.

After the show, he walked up to the rock star and said, “We study your lyrics in my classes. My students love your music, and so do I.”

The rock star looked at him and said, “I have so much respect for teachers. You are the real revolutionary. I just sing about revolution — you’re creating it.”

Kevin’s heart almost stopped. He didn’t quit. He’s still teaching to this day. And he loves it, too.

Thanks to a rocker who saw the true star in the room.

 


 

Dale wasn’t sure she wanted to be an opera singer anymore.

It was her passion, her dream, her calling — but some of the people she trusted told her to stop.

“It’s a hard life,” they said. “Long nights, tough rehearsals, weeks on tour, on the road … that’s no way to live. Especially when you’ve got a child.”

Then she met a young attorney who loved opera more than just about anything in the world. He asked her to sing. She did.

He said, “You have a beautiful voice. It’s a gift. Don’t quit.”

She didn’t. She went on to have an illustrious career, singing at some of the world’s legendary opera houses, playing the leading roles.

Oh, and she married that guy. (He’s my dad.)

 


 

Never underestimate the power of a perfectly timed compliment … a word of encouragement … a moment of truth.

Just the right words. Just the right time.

A blog post can rock someone’s world.

A heartfelt email can create miracles.

A sentence can alter somebody’s destiny.

If you feel them, say them.

Don’t hold back.

You never know who is aching — even dying — for the words in your heart.

xo.


 

PS. Who needs your words, today? What will you say?

 
 

Everything is marketing.

 
 
 

Over the years, hundreds of smart, passionate people have said to me:

 

“I love everything about my work! Except marketing.”

 

I used to feel that way, too.

But my whole attitude about marketing shifted when I stopped thinking about it as “separate” from the rest of my work.

It’s not.

 

Everything is marketing.

 

Writing a blog post … is marketing.

Sending out an email to friends + family … is marketing.

Blowing a client’s mind, so they can’t stop talking about you … is marketing.

Being visibly enthusiastic about your work … is marketing.

Making someone’s day … is marketing.

Leading by example … is marketing.

Being YOU … is marketing.

 

Like I said …

 

Everything is marketing.

 

So if you’ve already decided that you “hate” marketing, you’re pretty much saying, “I hate everything.”

Which is ridiculous. You don’t.

In fact, you love your work SO much, that right now?

You’re going to send an email to somebody (or thousands of somebody’s) who could use a little miracle today, and say:

 

“Hey. I know that you’re struggling with _________, so I made this for you. I think it will help.

Enjoy to the fullest. There’s more where that came from. You know where to find me.”

 

Look at you.

You’re marketing.

xo.

 
 

Don’t “write blog posts” or “launch products.”
Create little miracles.

 
 

Want to make helpful things that people actually want to read, watch, use, buy and share?

But … not sure what your people actually need?

It’s simple.

Ask them:

 

What would feel like a miracle right now?

 

That’s it.

Ask that question.

And listen closely.

Maybe your people will say …

For me? A miracle would be …

: Completing a half-marathon.
: Falling back in love with my partner.
: Finishing the book I’ve been sitting on for five years.
: Fitting into my clothes + feeling at home in my own skin.
: Having a chance to unplug + get out of town for a few days.
: Knowing how to throw the ultimate dinner party, like, tonight!
: Knowing how to say to my boss, “I’m not doing that.”
: Knowing how to get my teenager to cooperate.
: Really believing that I can do ____________.


Then?

 

Go be a miracle worker.

 

“Great! Here’s a toolkit that will help you to do EXACTLY that…”

“I hear ya. Here’s an inside peek at how I accomplished that, step by step…”

“Thanks for sharing. It sounds like you’re dealing with ____________. Here’s something that will help…”

 

Serve up the exact flavor of “miracle” that your people are praying for.

Not the miracle you wish they were praying for.

The miracle they’re actually praying for.

 

Create little miracles. Or big ones. Daily.

 

Do that, and you’ll never have to “convince” people that your “stuff” is high-quality, insightful and stupendously valuable.

They’ll already know.

xo.

 
 

PS. What’s the miracle that your people are praying for?

 
 

I wanna be the kid who dances like a total dork + lights up the world. How about you?

 
 
 

“What should I charge for my new product: $75 or $150?”

“Should I update my blog five times a week, or is twice enough?”

“What’s the best way to follow up with someone who’s hard to reach? Email? Phone? Both?”

 
 

Three questions. Three people.

Three bright minds + brave hearts, deeply committed to doing great work.

I listened. I contemplated. And in the end, my answer to all three questions … was exactly the same:

 

“Go with what feels right.”

 

I know, I know.

It’s the most annoying answer of all time.

It’s also the only answer that makes sense. (At least, in my mind.)

And here’s why:

 

When you do things that don’t feel right, you feel uncomfortable + resentful.

When you feel uncomfortable + resentful, you do un-awesome work.

When you do un-awesome work, you feel ashamed + disappointed.

When you feel ashamed + disappointed, it’s impossible to talk about your work with enthusiasm + confidence. Unless you’re a really good liar. (Which, let’s face it, you’re not.)

And if you can’t talk about your work with enthusiasm + confidence, well …

You see where this sad-parade is marching.

 

That’s why my answer to pretty much every question ever (writing, business, what to eat for lunch, sex, life, whatever) is:

 

“Go with what feels right.”

 

Because, c’mon.

Who would YOU rather watch?

The kid dancing (like a total dork) with jaw-dropping enthusiasm, joy, self-trust and conviction?

Or the kid dancing (like a perfect robot) with a grimace of resentment etched on his face?

I know who I’d rather watch.

 

The kid who knows what feels right.

 

xo.

 
 

What is a “good” writer, anyway?

 
 

Alexandra:

Would you PLEASE help me? My mother is a former English major and is very traditional when it comes to punctuation and grammar.

When she reads things I have written, she is mortified. She thinks that my tone is too casual (I’m running a business and trying to attract customers) and that my grammar makes me sound like an idiot.

We have had more than one nasty fight and misunderstanding, especially when it comes to my use of commas.

Is there a trick you use for when and where to use commas, or something I can say to her that might put her mind at ease?

– Meg

 
 

Meg:

I think you (and everybody else reading this) know that this question isn’t really about “commas.”

It’s not really about punctuation or grammar at all.

I think the question you’re really asking is:
 

What is a “good” writer, anyway?

 

And secondarily:
 

How can I convince my mom that I am one?

 

I can’t really help you with the second question, because the truth is, your style of writing may NEVER resonate with your mom.

But that doesn’t mean that you’re not a good writer.

And here’s why:

 

The whole “point” of writing is to inspire your reader to FEEL, KNOW or DO something. (Sometimes, all three.)

 

If you’re writing an erotic novel, you want your reader to FEEL turned on, titillated and excited.

If you’re writing a guidebook to help folks set up a simple website on a budget, you want your reader to KNOW how to, well, set up a simple website on a budget.

If you’re writing a passionate speech about how women are not paid equally + fairly for their work, you want your reader to DO something about that problem. Like hold a round-table discussion with their employer. Or call up a local government leader + demand progressive action.

 

If your readers are FEELING, KNOWING and DOING what you want them to FEEL, KNOW and DO, then … congratulations! YOU are a good writer.

 

It’s as simple as that.

Now, if your spelling is so atrocious that it’s impossible for your reader to grasp what they’re supposed to be feeling, knowing and doing … that’s a problem.

If you write in long, rambling whirlwinds that lack focus + purpose and trail off to nowhere-land … that’s a problem.

If you use words incorrectly because you don’t know their definitions … that’s a problem.

But if you insert an extra comma here or there to indicate a “pause” or a conversational “breath” … or if you make certain words appear in all CAPS for extra emphasis … or if you start sentences with the word “And…” because it just feels right … even though it’s not technically grammatically correct … in my opinion?

 

That is not a problem.

 

If those stylistic choices make it EASIER for your reader to FEEL, KNOW and DO what you want them to FEEL, KNOW and DO, then they are not “mistakes.” They are a GOOD thing.

So go forth, Meg, and write the way that you naturally think + speak.

Write from the hut — heart + gut — extra commas and all.

 

As long as you are getting the kind of RESPONSE that you want and feel UNDERSTOOD — it’s all GOOD.

 

It’s your INTENT that shines through.

I’m sure that, in time, even your momma will see that, too.

No, matter, how, many, commas, you, use.

xo.

PS. Moms are awesome + are usually right about everything. But not always. If your mom is still fussing + fretting about your “casual” use of language, tell her to watch THIS.

PPS. Do YOU have any little writing “quirks” that drive certain people crazy? What do you say to yourself when faced with criticism?