Real storytelling

“You as an individual act different when you go to a boardroom in a business meeting, than you would when you got to las vegas with your friends….. Your still the same person but the context of the room changes the way you storytell”
Gary Vaynerchuk: Stop Storytelling Like it’s 2007
Charismatic emails

Charismatic emails

I’ve been learning a lot about charismatic emails at work. Something I had never really thought about but something that we are constantly sending and receiving. My director was told her emails are very charismatic and I agree. So what are the keys to a great email?
1. It’s not a letter. An email is between a letter and a text so it should be more personal and less formal.
2. This means you don’t have to start with Hi/ Dear etc like I tend to do. A reply email can start by just following the previous thought e.g Great to hear such enthusiasm (insert name here).
3. Reflect the other persons writing style. Think of email writing like a conversation. When in harmony we mirror the other persons tone, pace, energy levels.
4. Each new thought on a new line. Many emails are read on a phone and paragraphs are tricky to read. So putting each thought on a separate line, and groups of thoughts together  means that it’s harder to miss information.
5. A bit of humour goes a long way. Emails can feel like endless tasks so breaking it up with a joke or light touch really helps. E.g phew that was a lot!
6. Write in the affinitive, assertive and definitive Use assertive and active language. I’ve realised I’m such a passive writer, assertive language (not aggressive language) is more motivating and encouraging to read. E.g if this is right for you let us know instead of tell us what you think.
7. Sign off with warmth. My director hates signing off with the formal best wishes, yours truly etc. She instead plays on these and I can see the charm in personal sign offs like, “here’s to gathering aboard and ashore” or one of my favourites from photogapher Peter Dibdin is “Chairs”
Update 21/01/16
Here’s a great and funny guide “You must learn how to write a damn good email” by Lauren Holliday on Freelanship.com

“According to Mindtools, the average office worker receives around 80 emails each day.

That makes it REALLY EASY for hiring managers to skip over your email, when it includes an error. Your email has an error if it’s:

  • Ridiculously long
  • Has multiple “asks” (Asks are short for saying what you’re asking them for – every time you ask them for something counts as an “ask”)
  • Includes grammar errors and misspellings
  • Doesn’t address them correctly
  • Is not beneficial to them
  • Does not tell them what to do or what you want
  • Is one, gigantic paragraph (You’re killing my eyes when you do this!! I, for certain, NEVER read emails that are one, large paragraph, unless they’re from someone important – like Ryan Gosling perhaps)

The perfect email is short, easily scannable and includes a very clear call-to-action (CTA)”.

Reflection- Active Socioplastics 1 year on 

Reflection- Active Socioplastics 1 year on 

Why did I start this blog?

I can’t actually remember why I started blogging. I’d been wanting to do it for ages but had never got round to it. So finally after my birthday last year I just went for it. Started. No more excuses!

I do remember why I called it Active Socioplastics. I’d read an interview with Denise Scott Brown, urban planner and architect, where she spoke of active socioplastics as a method that combined sociology and design. People and the environment. And I thought this was fantastic. It said everything I wanted to do and was trying to do.

Given what you’ve done up to now what do you feel?


Over the last year I’ve made about 150 posts over the last year. About 5-10% I’m proud of and average about 5+ readers a day.

Not great numbers! But I feel so much more content with what I’m posting . I am excited most days to write something now and feel happier to share it. A massive change from a few months ago!

My ‘what the hell am I doing?’ period was round April.

 I’d been coasting along on blog posts I wasn’t really loving and didnt feel that excited about (check out the productivity series).

Then I attempted to post everyday for a month inspired by James Greig. I’d done it for a week with Seth Godins challenge and thought “I can do it”. A month of daily posts is a whole different ball game!

I had some ideas but not many I actually wanted to write. I didnt really know what I wanted to share. I had graphics I wanted to make but no time to do them…..

Feeling overwhelmed, I ended up with a mental block. Wrote posts that I wasn’t very proud of (I mean I wrote about catwalk modelling! Clutching at straws!)

So I just stopped. I felt like I didn’t have anything interesting to say and was so concerned about what people would think if they read my blog.

I eventually got back to writing again. I set the bar really low for myself. Only 1 post a week, didn’t manage that at first. However it made me be more thoughtful about what I wanted to say.

My breakthrough was writing the post on creativity, passion and finding your voice. I’m so proud of that post. I finally felt like I was expressing what I was thinking about, connecting the ideas and things I’d been learning in a way that added some value. I started to explore using text as a graphical style, mixing and breaking up lines, which I enjoyed.

I suddenly feel like I’m finding my voice something that I’ve been working on in general for a while now. I’m getting more comfortable with expressing more and more of myself and what I’m exploring 🙂

What have you done right?

I’ve experimented with a range of blog organisation techniques. From a weekly blog calendar, to a google docs (both made me feel overwhelmed, there were too many ideas and too few insights).

Now I just use Evernote.

Every month I start a Spark Page and note all my ideas. I started by just putting the link or the idea but hardly ever came back. Now I try to flesh them out immediately so the base is there. Then add to it whenever I discover some other interesting thing that fits the topic. They constantly evolve. After I upload the post, I delete them.  Such a nice feeling!

I’m also attempting to hand write first. There’s something about writing by hand that seems to imprint the idea more than typing on a computer. It’s like word vomit and I don’t have to worry about it being perfect.

I have lots of ideas I want to do but I’m getting better at knowing when to stay no. For example I have graphics I’d love to make but I don’t really have the time to do. Instead  I’ve been experimenting with just using the text layout to create a graphical effect.

I feel like a kaleidoscope of ideas, interests and passions; finance, enterprise, architecture, fashion, design, development, personal growth, productivity, being black, Africa…. I’m getting better at reflecting this in the blog and I’m feeling more and more comfortable about expressing myself. 

What could you do better?

Definitely get better at making meaningful connections online. Things like responding to other peoples posts and connecting with people online. I keep hearing about this, building relationships, talking to people but I’ve struggled with this. So if you have any tips I’d love to know!

Since my brother advised me to do this, I’ve started sharing the things I discover and I’m constantly emailing my friends about. I’m totally an information gatherer and it’s been quite liberating having somewhere to share it all.

I’m now working to start to join up information to connect ideas and add my perspective. I’m still conscious of my friends brilliant advice to write why the topic is interesting for me and the experiences that have influenced that. To write like I talk basically.

I also want to develop my writing skills so I’m taking the How to Write with Flair  course on Udemy.

What blogs do you aspire to be like?

Stumbling on Austin Kleon’s tumblr blog and Keri Smiths blog made me realise that I can express my crazy mix of interests on a blog. To treat it more like a scrapbook and a journal. The structure Keri has is easy to navigate and Austin is brilliant at simple and effective posts.

I remember listening to a Design Matters podcast with Maria Papova and just absolutely wanting to be like her. She writes her blog for herself, things she’s interested in and exploring. She spoke of doing what you do best and linking to the rest, creating a framework of what matters and why and storytelling with a strong point of view.

Some of my favourite blogs include Swiss Miss, Design Affects, Red Jotter and Seth Godin for their straight to the point, friendly and insightful posts.

All in all it’s been a great year of exploration. This year I’d love to focus on learning and building my skills.

I look forward to what it brings! 🙂


the reflections questions I use are from a group mentoring session I had when I was as director of a social enterprise.

It’s one of my favourite reflection exercises, so simple and effective. Really gets to the bottom of what you’re feeling and where you want to go :).