I serve on the media advisory committee for a local magnet school, Northwest Career and Technical Academy. This morning the school hosted a mock interview session, where local members of the media (including related fields like marketing and public relations) dedicated a few hours to pretending to interview students for a job or internship. We then had to grade the students on markers such as attire, eye contact, responses to questions, résumé/portfolio, etc.

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Should have used a different font!

A couple years ago, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) made the largest discovery in the field that had been seen in over 40 years. Physicists proved the existence of the Higgs boson particle—more commonly called the God particle—that pretty much explains the entire universe. Exciting, right? Something this huge, you’d think that #godparticle would have been the biggest Twitter trend since #slicedbread. Instead, the Twittersphere swarmed with complaints over the font used by the CERN folk in their live webcast presentation: the dreaded Comic Sans.

In most cases, solving the mysteries of the known universe shouldn’t pale in comparison to which font you choose for your website or project, but the level of vitriol over Comic Sans in particular shows that isn’t always the case. What makes typography such a big deal, anyway?

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Dave's Killer Bread the story 723x485When I mention Dave’s Killer Bread, few people know what company I’m talking about, but those who do respond with an almost cult-like affection. If you’re not familiar with it, Dave’s Killer Bread is the reincarnation of a decades-old family bakery out of Portland that has seen a meteoric rise in profits, fame and opportunity, mostly thanks to the introduction of Dave Dahl.

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Branding wordSometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day tasks of running a business that you forget to take a step back and view it all with a critical eye. Do my customers see what I think they see? What do complete strangers think when they come across my website? Are my employees in line with my vision for the company? Do they even know what my vision is? Depending on the answers to these questions, you may have some work in store for you to improve your company’s image. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

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Keep Calm and Free of JargonWhile editing a stack of documents a few months back, I ran across the phrase “top of mind.”

“Ugh, awkward,” I thought, and changed it. But then it popped up again a few docs later from a different writer, and then again while researching. Amid my growing suspicions, I managed to Google it with slightly shaky hands.

To my horror, I found that “top of mind” was a thing — an actual accepted phrase used in business every day by who knows how many people, and this despite its ungainly cadence and oh-so-wrongness. And top of mind is far from the only culprit. We also have nuggets like “vertical market” and leverage used as a verb in the wrong way. Also, nuggets.

Companies now have robust offerings instead of choices and they leverage solutions instead of selling stuff. And business jargon itself is

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If you’re like me, a new year often means looking back at the previous year and comparing it to what’s about to come. For some, this can be a downright depressing process, with most of the focus on past failures. For others, however, it’s full of excitement, with much to look forward to in the coming year. To which camp do you belong?

Seed growing - progression 723x485

I won’t patronize you by extolling the virtues of positive thinking and seeing mistakes and failures as simply blueprints for what success is meant to look like. Rather, I want to point out that regardless of your natural attitudinal tendencies, planning and preparation play a big role in what you reap down the line. I’m a strong believer in that, and I’ve found that if we have a blockbuster of a month, all I have to do is

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Email mistakes frustrate clientsNear the end of each school semester, I receive an email from my favorite college professor asking me to speak at one of her career classes. Because she was my favorite professor, and because those students will soon be a part of our local work force, I always say yes.

One of my favorite questions I’ve been asked during these sessions is, “What did you learn in ‘the real world’ that you wish you’d learned in school?” My answer to that is: emailing for business.

Emailing for business is an oft-overlooked skill that, when done correctly, can really enhance your business’ and your personal brand. If the subject is one of which you haven’t given much thought, don’t worry! It’s never too late to give it a little consideration. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Avoid life stories

These days, people can receive hundreds of emails each day. If you want them to read – rather than dread – yours, make an effort to get to the point quickly.

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Depending on who you ask, William Shatner was perhaps the best Star Trek captain to come along. As the Enterprise’s captain, Shatner restored galactic peace on multiple occasions, prevented the destruction of Earth on several others, and even kissed a blue chick. That alone brings him up a star on a five-star rating system. The guy earned his fan base, and despite his best efforts, the original Kirk’s legend endures online, at conventions, and in the hearts of millions of fans. Shatner became Star Trek’s poster child.

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