8 Credibility Killers from Inc.

In “8 Conversational Habits That Kill Credibility” at Inc.com, Geoffrey James warns readers about some common errors that can sabotage your sincerity and trustworthiness.

Here’s a sampling, one of my favorites:

3. Prolixity

“Using big, impressive sounding words rather than smaller, common ones can leave listeners with the impression that you’re pompous and pretentious. Examples: “assess strategic options and tactical approaches” (i.e. “plan”) or “implement communications infrastructure” (i.e. “add wireless”). Fancy-schmancy wording adds bulk and extracts clarity.

Fix: The core problem here is the need to feel as if your business and your activities are more important and impressive than they really are. The fix, therefore, is a big dose of humility. Business is neither rocket science nor brain surgery–it is, in fact, a place where plain talk is both valued and appreciated.”

I’m afraid No. 3 is far too common. A good guideline: Write (or speak) to express, not impress.

Read the entire article

The Daily Progress: ‘Book Festival Blossomed with Damon’

Nancy Damon.

Nancy Damon.

The thank-you note arrived a little more than two weeks after I sat on a sports stories panel at the Virginia Festival of the Book. The note was signed by festival director Nancy Damon.

“At the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, we thank you for your participation in making the Festival the amazing event it is,” wrote Damon. “We are so happy to present a sports-oriented program.”

I’m not David Baldacci, who was at the festival this year. Nor am I John Grisham, who appeared in 2013. But I felt special nonetheless, thanks to Damon. She apparently wrote, signed and sent similar thank-you notes to the hundreds of authors who participated at this year’s festival.

I was told by a reliable source that Damon does nearly all of the work. That surprised and impressed me.

Now she’s retiring and is deserving of the accolades that appeared in the The Daily Progress (Charlottesville):

It will be hard to imagine the annual Virginia Festival of the Book without the quicksilver, whirlwind presence of Nancy Damon.

But next year we won’t have to imagine. We’ll know.

Ms. Damon is retiring as the festival’s director.

She’s led the event for the past 14 years and has been involved since its founding 20 years ago. And she’s done an amazing job.

Read the entire article

Reading on a Long Flight and Trip

A week ago I was departing on a trip to California. I’ve been reading The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin, but I didn’t want to lug that massive hardcover through airports and elsewhere. I left it at home.

I don’t have a Kindle or Nook–yet. I still like to read physical books.

At Raleigh-Durham International Airport, I discovered a used bookstore called 2nd Edition Booksellers. I would never have expected a secondhand book outlet in a major airport but there it was, and I happily searched the stacks for a paperback I could take on my flights to and from Los Angeles. I picked up a novel by David Guterson, author of Snow Falling on Cedars.

I can be a slow and distracted reader, so even though I’m home from my trip I’m still working on Guterson’s novel, which is interesting.

What do you like to read on trips and vacations? What is your preferred format?

My March Writer’s Retreat at Ambrosia Farm Bed & Breakfast

Originally posted on Neil Sagebiel:

AmbrosiaSign_06 There are still a few spots available for my upcoming writer’s retreat at Ambrosia Farm Bed & Breakfast in Floyd, Virginia. It begins on Friday evening, March 7 and runs through Sunday morning, March 9. The cost is $120 plus lodging.

Here’s the fancy-pants description:

“Writing and Publishing Your Nonfiction Book”

Author and blogger Neil Sagebiel of Floyd, Virginia, will lead a writer’s retreat on nonfiction book writing and publishing. Neil will cover topics such as story development and research, the book proposal, the writing process, literary agents, publishers, working with editors, and related areas. Participants can discuss and work on a current project and/or simply bring their ideas and questions.

(Once all participants are identified, Neil will email questions related to their background and interests and work to tailor the time accordingly. This retreat will include time to work on a current project and/or other fun writing exercises.)


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Citizens Celebrates Centennial Anniversary

Citizens1Congratulations to Citizens, our local and regional telecommunications provider, for 100 years of service to Floyd and surrounding communities.

Citizens extended this invitation in its February newsletter:

Citizens2Come join Citizens 100th Anniversary Celebration on Friday, February 28, 2014 as we celebrate YOU, our loyal customer. Stop by our office in Floyd and enjoy a pictorial history of our company, refreshments, and more. It’s our way of paying tribute to those who have helped us stand the test of time.

The company also announced the completion of its regional fiber network.

My Grandma Edna

(A little something I wrote about my Grandma Edna when she died in March 2005. She lived her entire life in Jeffersonville, Indiana.)

Today we put Grandma Edna in the ground. Her full name was Edna Laura Etta Eich.

Everyone loved grandma. The sentimental memories of a grandson? Perhaps. But she did possess angelic qualities that I haven’t encountered in any other person.

Others said so, too. And it wasn’t people just saying nice things because she had passed. Friends and church members who knew her for years cried tears that seemed to come from some deep reservoir of sorrow.

My Uncle Bruce stood up and spoke about his mom. I wish I could tell you what he said. I can tell you it was heartfelt, the humble words of a son who was blessed with a sweet loving mother. (My dad, a former minister accustomed to these occasions, said he couldn’t have done it. Too hard to find words. Too emotional.)

Many others came forward and spoke about how they met grandma and what she meant to them. Then my cousin Tony walked to the front of the church sanctuary and shared a story about our grandma.

Grandma was attending the Ash Wednesday service with Tony when everyone was asked to write down his or her sins on a piece of paper and pass it to the center aisle. All the scraps of paper would be taken up front to the cross and burned. Hard of hearing, it took grandma a few extra moments to understand what was happening. An awkward pause followed.

Finally, after all had passed their slips to the center aisle, grandma leaned toward Tony and whispered, “I don’t have anything to write down.”

How I Like My Coffee

According to Statistic Brain, 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee. Want to take a guess at how much is spent annually on specialty coffee in the United States?

Try $18 billion.

I was a little disturbed to learn that 65% of coffee drinkers add cream and/or sugar to their coffee. Years ago my father told me if I drank my coffee black for a week that I’d never go back to cream and/or sugar. Dad wasn’t right about everything, but he was right about that.

Coffee is an important (um, essential) part of my morning routine. Back in my ad agency days, I wrote my “four things coffee has to be.”

Those four things are:

1. Fresh.

2. Black.

3. Strong.

4. Hot.

Speaking of “hot,” one of my former workmates used to kid me about constantly heating and re-heating my coffee in the microwave. So here’s the crazy part. I’d pour it from the pot into my cup and then put my cup in the microwave because it wasn’t hot enough. Yes, I like my coffee scalding hot. I’m not sure why.

Are you part of the 54% who drinks coffee? If so, how do you like yours?