Often we have ‘moments of truth’ without realising until much later what grand epiphanies they are.
Way back in about 1998, I was sitting in the back of a strategic marketing presentation about a new range of toy concepts being represented by Gaffney Licensing in the city. The room was a blackened basement (lest we get distracted) devoid of windows or any sense of life…and I was bored.
Doodling on my notepad I started to write down every word I was hearing that sounded hollow or made me yawn (and I hadn’t even read about Don Watson’s book Death Sentence about weasel words at this stage!).
I quickly had a list scrawled down my page and a sudden spark of inspiration. What if I found a better and more engaging word for each of these hollow over-used, and frankly, lazy words?
Suddenly I felt alive. Words tumbled onto the page.
What about if we used words such as inspiration instead of information?
Considered instead of strategic?
Conscious instead of profit-driven?
Preference instead of plan?
Humanity instead of consumer?
Meaning instead of marketing?
Awe instead of purchase intention?
Gifts instead of KPIs?
Authenticity instead of qualifications?
The fall in the hero’s journey instead of ‘failing to meet budget’?
Visionary instead of CEO?
*and trust me just saying Chair instead of Chairman would have been bold back then…)
Now this was feeling juicy…
Fast forward twenty years and I am still bought alive by the search for the right word.
I believe the right word changes everything.
It can change your mind, your connection, your understanding, your desire, your action.
The right word can even change the world.
And what is the right word? Well in my mind, the right words are rich words, feeling words, evocative words that reveal the beauty of language and reflect the poetics that are deeply embedded in our minds via every story ever written.
These words sing.
They have rhythm.
They build a state of being in your body that is much more than the word.
I didn’t realise back then how much this simple awareness about words would define and refine what I do today. It wasn’t long after that meeting I left corporate life and started to rewrite my world.
The right word really does change everything.