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Five Words: The Introduction

What Isla Knew

Mon May 30 23:53:47 2016

I attended a presentation by the wonderful Isla Wilson who was speaking as part of the Ruby Star Associates (@rubystartweets) last year. In that presentation, pretty much at the start, she ran a series of small demonstrations. One particular test was to think of five words to describe your business.

Take a moment to think of five words yourself.

Don’t read on.

You got them, now you can read on.

The Words

The line up of the usual words as Veggan characters

The line up of the usual words as Veggan characters

I bet you came up with some good words, I did. However here’s the catch.

If you read the words out to Isla, as we did on that day, she would likely fail you. Sometimes it was one word in, sometimes a couple (I managed three). There seemed no rhyme or reason to the failure, or why she was failing people. That was, of course, until she explained the methodology.

The Methodology

What she was looking for was five words to describe your business, the opposite of these words had to be a word that you might also use to describe a business, maybe even your business. In other words the opposite couldn’t be derogatory or unused.

So unique is out, because who uses everyday, commonplace to describe themselves?[1]

And professional is out as you wouldn’t call yourself amateur.

You see where this is going?

I still failed though… but since then I have found five words, in fact I have found a few more. I’m going to give some of them and why I thought of and why they suit us. I might also talk about those words a little. I don’t believe that all the words will be positive to everyone,[2] but part of the method is that they are honest.

My own criteria is that they are also, to some degree, more about the personality of the business, and that is gained from the people who make up the company. Companies have an identity and you can choose if it is a reflection of the people in the company or created for the organisation itself.[3]

What follows is a short series of blogs about those words, this is just the introduction and a thank you. The wonderful people of Ruby Star Associates (@rubystartweets) and in particular Dorothy (@DorothyWinters) are well worth investigating to help your business and to see them perform in their many fashions. If you are lucky enough to do so, it may also involve Lego.

[Don't forget that you can join in this conversation by using the comments form or by tweeting at @shadowcat_mdk]


[1] I chose unique because I think I have read or heard almost everyone I know in business describe themselves or their company in this manner at one time.

[2] This is not that I don’t think I can find five words that are positive, just that the words I am choosing may throw different semantic interpretations. Words have an implied understanding, their lexical semanticity if you like. However we infer a lot more and this is more to do with our perceived understanding of what the word in light of our ourselves. So, it also has a great deal to do with context!

[3] At this point words such as ‘professional’, ‘brand’ and ‘responsibility’ would usually wing their way at you in a colossal splurge of marketing fluff. I know all about those. I don’t disagree that they have their place. But they are a soulless sort of gloss and shouldn’t be anything other than your Sunday Suit. The true nature of a company should be found picking its nose in lounge clothes and waxing lyrical about the proper nature of the universe and how it plays its individual part.