It all comes down to one thing: making it matter

Most of what we write doesn't matter.

It's not because we're lazy or ignorant. It's because we don't understand how to create meaning. Whether we don't make the time to find out, or haven't (yet) been beat by a competitor who gets it, we tend to keep things safe. But that just doesn't work anymore. What we need more of is connecting--less preaching. Do the work and inspire people to smile, click, call, vote, raise their hand, tell their friends, or change their minds.

How can we make meaning?

Know who you're talking to. Remember--they're people. Human beings. Find out what they need and whether what you're saying (or selling) meets that need.

Believe in what you're saying. If you don't understand exactly what you offer and how it's unique, no one else will--either. (Do you even like what you're selling? Would you buy it?)

Connect the two, above. When you understand what others need, and you know you have something to offer them--then we're ready to go. I know. It's simple--but it's true.

Here are a few people who have it figured out:

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song." - Maya Angelou

“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” - Anton Chekhov

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live?” - Henry David Thoreau

 Research, inspiration, and flashes of brilliance

I'm a big researcher. Here are some of the places I go for inspiration.

Made to Stick - If you want to make meaningful connections with marketing, this is a good place to start.

Simon Sinek - Just Google this guy. He has a way of reminding us how to connect on a very personal, real level.

Brain Pickings - This is one of those blogs that seems to read my mind. They post timely ideas and insights that I could have sworn were rolling around in my brain just before they showed up in my inbox.

McKinsey & Company - Lots of in-depth research about global business, trends, etc.

A List Apart - Most of what we write ends up online. These guys deep dive into web UX, design, and content. They have great conferences, too.

Jelly Helm - I worked with Jelly for one solid year as a masters candidate at the Brandcenter in Richmond, VA. Jelly helped me find my voice in the insanity that is grad school, and first made the connection for me that meaningful writing and sales can actually go hand-in-hand. Jelly keeps it real.

The Shape of Design - I think this book should be read and taught in high school to help inspire students to become designers (or think like them). One (of many) great quotes from this book: "It is the designer's job to figure out a way to have a problem show its actual self so that he can respond to the truth that has emerged." I could substitute the word "writer's" for designers here. Both are true.

Gallup.com - I am a huge research nerd and I go here to deep dive into surveys and facts that help me understand what people think, do, and feel in a timely manner. I especially love their "Wellbeing" section.

AIGA Raleigh - I currently serve as the vice president of this band of creative and driven people. Our mission is to create a place where designing thrives. We support the local creative community with events and activities that improve design ability, prove design impact, and unite people.

The Business of Belief - This book is bigger than your work life. It helps us understand why we come to not only understand--but believe something.