One billion illiterate people

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There are one billion illiterate people on Earth. Two thirds of them are women and 250 million of them are children.

This figure comes from a company called xprize which has, as its strap line, Making the Impossible possible.

Being bilingual essential in today's world

Azadeh Nafissi is from Iran and her first language is Persian. I first met her at University when she was doing post graduate studies. We became firm friends and I saw first-hand how difficult life is when you are not a native speaker of English. Not only was she dealing with a course that demanded scholarship and intellectual rigour but she began to think in English before producing assignments that made sense to her markers. It was a huge task and all credit to her she got through.

On writing skills in 2nd language

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe” Gustave Flaubert

Writing well is about the energy behind the words

Many years ago I faced a crisis. I know everyone does so I have no hesitation in admitting I am no different.

I had to decide what I was going to do with the next decades of my life because circumstances had taken away all my options. It felt like I had nowhere to turn and in that moment I turned to the only place left….inside. I had been avoiding that place all my life so it was a frightening prospect.

In that place I fearfully entered I found a shivering little bundle of terror. It hardly dared to speak. I had been shouting it down for so long it cowered from me.

Every beat counts

When I was at University many years ago I was doing a post graduate Diploma in Broadcast Communication. It was the pre cursor to the programme AUT now runs for aspiring television, media and communications professionals. We were given practical skills in developing media stories and getting them to air. One of the first exercises we were set was to put together a video clip which used a sound track with images cut to it. I chose ‘It’s a Kind of Magic’ by Queen.

Remotely writing a newsletter


This week we put out our newsletter and I must tell you how it was done because it couldn’t be less like the newsletters I produced ten years ago. Nothing like it!

The process was amazing because we co-ordinate input from three countries: New Zealand, France and USA.

Claire Thiveyrat, a marketer with considerable experience, has produced our newsletter for most of this year. You can tell which ones she’s produced by the quality of the layout, concise news and information. No redundant word in sight. Wonderful!

Adverbs: Friend or foe?

One of the students I meet with at Kristin School asked if using adverbs was a good practice.

It was a good question because I frequently see writing that is heavy in its use of adverbs. As I read, I watch the energy seep away with each appearance.

This has undoubtedly led to Stephen King’s proclamation ‘the road to hell is paved with adverbs . . . .’

The Style Guide changes the way we write.


Isn’t it embarrassing when you discover that what you preach isn’t what you do. Recently I reviewed our communications. Many were written before we had the Style Guide™. However, there really is no excuse for sending out letters that do not reflect the excellence in style we say others should be aiming to achieve.


Every blog I write goes through the Style Guide and almost every other communication does also. In fact, I re-wrote copy on our website when I discovered it did not land in the grid.


Put the 'wow' factor in your writing

How do you put the ‘wow’ factor into what you write? I have discovered that the Style Guide™ is fantastic for doing this. I have watched how writing takes on a warmer, more approachable tone as the writing is shifted from one part of the grid to another.

So let’s take a look at a simple paragraph.

“My hands reached across the desk and gripped the pen so hard it slipped and hit the ink well. Ink spilled everywhere. All of a sudden a blot of blue spread out in various hues of colour. The desk sat in the middle of the room and was very badly stained.”

Everything starts with imagination

Imagination is deceptive: It looks like nothing’s happening

‘The doubters said, “Man cannot fly.” The doers said, “Maybe, but we’ll try.” And finally soared in the morning glow. While non-believers watched from below.’ Bruce Lee



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