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That’s A Goaded Question – Clarity Lab Issue 84

by | Aug 11, 2021

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Actually, Length Does Matter.

I recently stumbled on this passage from Gary Provost, author and writing instructor, on how varying sentence length makes your writing more powerful. I love how he shows that writing is just like creating a piece of music. Both art forms are temporal art, that is, art that unfolds over time. I’ve been listening to Metallica’s Enter Sandman on repeat for a week because my client-friend Robert Lunte, the world’s best vocal coach, reminded me of how much I love 90’s metal.

Sorry if this sounds like heavy metal,
Sometimes you have to smash the pedal.
Your writing will have many words,
Let them fly like a shock of birds.

Right. Annnnyway, that sounds waaay better in my head because I’m actually scream-singing that. Let’s get to Gary’s writing example, shall we?

“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say, “Listen to this, it is important.”


That’s A Goaded Question

You’ve heard me say this more than once: building and running an online business that turns your knowledge into money isn’t easy. I say it often because it’s true and because many people who start on this journey started because some crafty marketer told them it was easy to make 6-figures in 6 months selling online courses. We know that’s not the truth, though, right?

So, it’s a challenging path. Got it. But what if we make it harder than it needs to be? What if there’s one simple question you could ask yourself that could show you if you’re overcomplicating things in your business? In this short video, Pat Flynn, founder of Smart Passive Income, shares the one question that Tim Ferris asked him that changed Pat’s whole perspective on how he does his business.


What’s He Going On About?

Quick quiz: without looking at your Google Analytics data, what’s the second most visited page on your site? If you answered “My About page!” then, DING DING DING!!! We have a winner!!!

And now for the million-dollar question: What should your About page be about? If you answered “Me!” then, ohhhh…I’m sorry, but that’s the wrong answer. 🙁 But don’t worry, everyone gets this one wrong at some point, even me.

Your About page should be 95% about how you or your business can help the person reading your About page and 5% about your personal details and backstory.

But how exactly should you write a stellar About page that turns visitors into customers? Sonia Simone, at Copyblogger, has the answer.



Every week we face hundreds of decisions in our business: “What should I write for my next blog post? What should I post on Instagram today? How should I launch my course this Fall? How should I respond to this email?”

How do you make all of those decisions? No, really. How do you, specifically, actually go about making all those small and big decisions each week? Personally, I use an internal algorithm composed of my core values. Since Clarity Lab is a one-person show, my values guide the business as I interact with my customers and clients.

If you’ve never taken a close look at what your values are, though, it can be hard to write the code of your internal algorithms. Nick Wignall has a great post about 7 ways to identify your values. While his article isn’t about running a business, I’ll make the connection for you here: getting Windex clear on your personal values makes decision making in your business so much easier. And the better alignment between your core values and how your business operates, the happier your customers will be. The happier your customers, the more impact and income you’ll have.

And for those of you who want to know what the hell an “internal algorithm made of values is,” here’s an example from my operating system:

solve_client_problem ()
{ define ( problem );
if( is_emotional(course_launch) )
return( kindness );
else discuss( launch_design_options);


Whipped Dream

It’s drilled into us from an early age: a full workday is 8 hours at a minimum. In the often unhealthy software startup space, 12-hour workdays are the norm. I’ve been through work sprints to prepare for course launches where I worked 12 to 18 hours a day for three weeks straight without a day off. I physically can’t do that anymore, and I’d never recommend it to anyone.

But I still beat myself up when I can only get in 3 or 4 hours of productive work time in a given day. If you do that to yourself as well, Oliver Burkeman is here to tell us we can stop the self flogging. It turns out there’s a common theme among famously creative people like Einstein, Darwin, Charles Dickens, and Virginia Woolfe: they all focused on getting just 3 to 4 hours of uninterrupted, focused work per day.

So let’s stop whipping ourselves. With life, family, and a never-ending task list for our businesses, it’s hard enough to get 4 hours of uninterrupted work time. The 4-hour workweek is a nice concept to aim for, but in reality, a 4-hour workday is a healthy goal. Speaking of which, I just hit my 4-hour mark. Gotta go!


Hope you get lots of uninterrupted 3 or 4-hour work blocks this week!

If you could use some one-on-one strategy and consulting support from me, I have bucketfuls of it for you. You can read about my consulting work and sign up for a free discovery chat with me right here. It’s just you, your business, and me…all three of us sitting down for coffee and strategizing about how to grow your impact and income.

Alright, that’s all for this week.

Shake it like a Polaroid picture,
~Forest Linden



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