Monthly Archives: February 2014

So Long To Sochi; Hello To Putin

The 2014 Winter Olympics are over now and I for one feel a twinge of sadness. Or perhaps nostalgia. Or is it just sentiment. It’s hard to put my finger on it but I enjoyed the games, at least some of them – and I’ll miss them. They are historic, and maybe that’s part of my feeling too. Maybe I’m just a traditionalist. Russia can take pride in the overall presentation of the games. Even the minor flaw of the fifth Olympic ring not functioning properly during the opening ceremonies, described by one media source as a “five ring circus,” should not detract from this conclusion. Interestingly, Russia tried to poke fun at itself by staging a temporary fifth ring failure during the closing ceremony, having the fifth ring remain unopened for a few beats before the dancers which formed it spread out to make the fifth ring.

Russia spent $51 billion dollars on the extravaganza, a huge sum no doubt. Whatever part of this was spent on security was money well spent. Happily, there were no terrorist incidents. But whether the same result will come to pass in four years when the next games will be in Pyeongchang, South Korea, only time will tell. The games will be right next door to one of the modern homes of terror, impoverished North Korea. This is where terror king Kim Jong Un, holds sway. He should be dubbed “Bugsy,” because the murderous actions of this psychotic, cold blooded commie dictator, who is nothing more than a street thug, resemble those of the notorious gangster, infamous mob killer Bugsy Siegel. It will be an embarrassment to him to see those games proceed without incident, with all of their attendant glory, excitement, and economic benefits, right next door to him. You can make book on it. Hopefully I’m wrong. We’ll see.

I didn’t enjoy all of the games. I can do without the tobogganing and “halfpiping.” But the downhill skiing and ice dancing were well worth watching. In particular, it was hard to contain the excitement over the superb skating of the team of Charlie White and Meryl Davis, skating to the music of the timeless classic, “Scheherazade.” This team justifiably won gold. And although Gracie Gold, the prettiest skater of them all, did not medal individually, her team won bronze. I was disappointed that men’s hockey lost out to Canada, which ultimately took the gold. And although the women’s team captured silver, it disappointingly didn’t hold up at the end, blowing a two goal lead with four minutes to play and losing in overtime to Canada. I was also disappointed that the USA didn’t garner top spot in total medals, that honor going to host Russia, but I take some solace from the fact that the U.S. still holds the lead in total medals won over the years. Also, the total of 28 was the most won by the U.S. at a winter games outside of North America.

On a political note, now that the games are over, it remains to be seen whether the Kremlin will question the authority of the Ukraine’s interim government, as the country struggles to create an identity. I wonder if Russian President Putin will try to strong arm the Ukraine to stay away from the West. Some meddling by him will be expected now that there is nothing going on in Sochi to distract him. His success in taking the initiative from President Obama over the issue of how to deal with Syria’s chemical weapons will undoubtedly provide some encouragement.

Russia’s staging of a surprise combat readiness exercise for 150,000 troops, ordered by Putin and ongoing as I write this blog, some stationed about 200 miles from the Ukraine border, can be seen as nothing less than a blatant attempt to intimidate that struggling country, now in the throes of a political vacuum without its elected president, who has fled the scene, to remain in Russia’s orbit and not to flee to the embrace of the West. Putin also may well have a hand in the unrest in the Crimea. The timidity of President Obama and the EU in dealing with him may presage more interference, directly and overtly, by the authoritarian Russian president in the Ukraine’s affairs.

Copyright©2014. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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A Weekend Call For Effective Communication

Last weekend I attended a business convention sponsored by ACN, a well established and successful network marketing powerhouse. I received notice of the convention by virtue of the fact that I am an ACN independent business owner. The convention took place in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was well worth the effort, despite residual interference by the massive snowstorm that earlier had swept through the region. The storm kept many from attending and caused great hardship on others to get there despite travel difficulties. I was impressed with Charlotte however, my first trip there, as a clean, upscale city, with quite a bit to offer its residents. ACN’s corporate headquarters is in nearby Concord and convention attendees were provided with the opportunity to tour the premises. I took the tour and found it to be most interesting.

One of the many fine speakers we heard was Larry Raskind, a special guest speaker with a well known, well respected reputation as a motivational speaker and network marketing guru who deservedly enjoys his excellent reputation. Raskind urged that the quality of your life would be determined by your ability to effectively communicate. You must work at your communication skills persistently to make them effective. Persistence defeats resistance. While formal education can make a living for you, self education can make you a fortune. This is a theme that I’ve used as the basis of this entire blog not to mention my book, “The Art of Clear Writing,” available on amazon.com/kindle books as well as in print.

One major step towards effective communication is to improve your vocabulary. This is another topic covered in depth on this blog on more than one occasion. Words are like the colors on a painters palette, argued Raskind, giving you the option to paint effective word pictures as you speak and write. I couldn’t agree more. I have often said that you must find and use the right word to be able to write clearly.

The ability to effectively communicate should be part of your personal development continued Raskind. Building mental toughness should also be part of your regimen, which includes setting a goal of seeing your communication project through to the end. Your personal development journey will not be complete otherwise. Make this part of a three to five year plan in your long term vision towards improving your personal effectiveness.

Raskind also urged listeners to follow the philosophy of Jim Rohn, another well known, widely recognized and respected motivational speaker, and the author of many books, tapes, and video programs. He has helped to train both personal development trainers as well as executives from the country’s top corporations. One of Rohn’s keys to personal development is your attitude towards your business. As applied to clear writing, this means to have confidence in your writing, a subject on which I’ve also expounded. An upbeat attitude towards writing flows from having confidence in it. This in turn means practice, practice, and practice your writing. The more you write, the better and clearer your writing will become. Becoming an accomplished writer should be your goal. Once achieved, you will see huge dividends in terms of your personal development and success.

To tie all this together, effective communication is an integral part of your personal development. This in turn entails development of clear writing techniques. Clear writing is thus the means to an end, a very desirable end, i.e., your success.

Incidentally, for those of you interested in learning more about network marketing, I recommend “Your First Year In Network Marketing,” by Mark and Rene Yarnell, for follow up reading. They acclaim
network marketing as “the greatest opportunity in the history of capitalism.”

Copyright©2014. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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Away on Business

To all of my readers and followers – I will be out of town at a convention starting tomorrow and will be unable to post my usual blog this week. Please accept my apologies. Arnold Regardie.

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The Importance of Clear Writing

My book, “The Art of Clear Writing,” available on amazon.com/kindle books and in print, contains many guidelines and techniques on clear writing. Here is an excerpt:

In today’s world, language is predominant. It is vital to all communications, and is the key to your personal and business success. The power of the written word is far reaching and depends in turn on the quality of your writing. Writing is therefore of utmost importance.

The ability to write clearly is a requirement for anyone trying to get ahead. Without it, you have little chance to inform or persuade others. Unclear writing wastes both time and money. Your success will largely depend on how well you express yourself.

Whether you are writing for a personal or business purpose, it is the writer’s job to be clear, not the reader’s job to figure out what you’re trying to say. The March Hare’s admonition to Alice, “…you should say what you mean,” also applies perforce to writing. (See: “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland,” 97, Lewis Carroll, New Ed., MacMillan & Co., 1885). Remember, you are promoting yourself when you write. Poor writing will not only lead to loss of credibility but will stamp you as an amateur and may well cause your reader to stop reading. Good writing sells itself.

Even lawyers, with all their education, are not always good writers. In a profession which devotes extensive time and effort to the written word, it may be surprising to learn that lawyers and judges still strive to improve their writing skills. Bryan Garner, a well known attorney and respected authority in the field of legal writing, has devoted extensive time to lecturing and writing on the subject of legal writing for judges and lawyers. His excellent writing lectures, several of which I attended, have been given across the country. One of his publications, “The Winning Brief,” which I used extensively as a practicing lawyer, contains a wealth of writing tips which should be useful to non-lawyers as well as lawyers. (See: “The Winning Brief,” Bryan A. Garner, Oxford University Press, 1999). This is another lead to pursue for those of you really serious about improving your writing.

Clear writing is easy to say, but what exactly does it mean? The term defies definition, but you know it when you see it. Clear writing means using words effectively. It is evidenced by the orderly and logical presentation of information using everyday language that readers can easily understand. It is well organized, concise and follows other good writing practices as discussed in this book.

A clearly written document should be easy to read and visually attractive so it looks like it’s meant to be read. One practical way of attaining clearness is by fully thinking out what you want to say. Sloppy thinking produces sloppy writing. So, cultivate a habit of accuracy in thinking. Select your words carefully, avoid excess language, and use words economically. This will go a long way toward achieving clarity.

Write as you talk in a natural, conversational tone, one on one, in a way that is not stilted or artificial. More than one writing authority has suggested that it makes good sense to write with a specific person in mind, giving that person the information you would want to receive in return.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to ask the following question at each stage of the writing process: can my thoughts be presented any more clearly?

This book breaks with the traditional approach to teaching English grammar in that it eschews memorization of rules. Memorization of grammar rules is of little use except to pass examinations. It has been my personal experience that as you train yourself to observe and appreciate good writing, you can likewise train yourself to develop and employ good writing habits in constructing sentences. This result cannot be accomplished by memorization of rules, which will have little effect on learning and understanding the context with which words are
used. But, when in doubt, look up the rule.

The best expression of thoughts through good grammar can be learned by observing the association of the right word with the appropriate context in a sentence. The emphasis should be on training your eye to carefully observe how grammar is used in putting sentences together and to constantly practice what you have learned in your writing. The point was well made many years ago by the late Sherwin Cody, who authored several books and self study courses on writing and learning good English. Learn grammar by “original processes”, he wrote, “not by authorities and rules.” (See: “New Art of Writing and Speaking The English Language,” 59, Sherwin Cody, 1933, 1938).

Increase your own value to others by learning to write clearly. It will pay huge dividends for you.

Copyright©2014. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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Filed under active voice, clear writing, good diction, sound sentence structure, tips for good diction, Writing Improvement