Tag Archives: English

On My Way To Cleveland, Ohio

Next weekend I’ll be traveling to Cleveland, Ohio to attend one of the international conventions hosted by my network marketing partner.  I consider it  part of the business I’m involved in, part of the commitment I’ve made to succeed at this business, to attend this convention.  It will be my first trip to Cleveland, so that will be a new experience.  But, for that reason,  it will not be possible for me to post a blog here next week.

After practicing law in California for over forty years, network marketing is a new challenge for me.  I got into it at the behest of my oldest son, who is also in the business, to help him escape the financial constraints  of teaching.  One of the exciting aspects of the business is to be able to help others change their lives by becoming independent business owners.  Helping a client start a new business when I was practicing law was always a rewarding  endeavor for me.  Now I can do it all over again in my network marketing business.

Many, many years ago when I was in prep school in Pennsylvania, I took a course in English writers.  One of the writers I studied was John Keats.  Keats was not with us on this planet very long.  He died of tuberculosis at age 26.  That was back in 1821.  There was no cure for it in those days.  But while he was here he wrote some memorable poetry and one of the poems was “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer.”  It was Chapman’s translation  (Chapman was a writer himself who lived in the 1600s) of  the epic Greek poet Homer (who lived around 700-800 BC and is famous for the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey”) which excited Keats so much.  He described his excitement in this poem as akin to that of an astronomer watching a new planet swim into his field of vision, or that of Spanish explorer Cortez when “with eagle eyes” he stared out upon the vast expanse of the blue Pacific.  The network marketing business is likewise an exciting experience and it provides vast opportunities for personal and financial growth.  Excuse me for going a bit overboard, but you get the idea.

I’m also reminded of the Los Angeles blender salesman who one day got an  order for blenders from a small hamburger shack in San Bernardino, about 90 miles East of LA.  He drove out to San Bernardino to deliver the blenders and look at the hamburger shack’s operation himself.  He found a business that was a model of simplicity.  All the little shack  served was  hamburgers, fries, and shakes.  He also saw a business that was easily duplicated.  The blender salesman, whose name was Ray Kroc, bought the little hamburger shack, decided to keep the shack’s name, McDonald’s, and the rest is history.  I only mention this story because my business is also simple in operation and easily duplicated.  This is the key to growing the business.

It’s not just the potential financial rewards that motivate me in this business.  It’s also the personal satisfaction from the thought that I’m actually helping the economy by reducing unemployment.  I have often voiced my extreme displeasure with the current occupant of the White House for being someone who is not only unqualified for the job of being president but is incompetent to boot.  The continued stagnant economy in this country marked by high levels of unemployment attests to that unpleasant fact.  So I feel I’m doing my part by helping others to move ahead financially despite the shortcomings of the present administration.

The company I’m in partnership with now now operates in Mexico as well as other parts of the world.  This factor provides me with the opportunity to expand not just in this country but in Mexico and worldwide.  I have also taken an increased interest in Mexico in my efforts to expand my business into that country.  Mexico is a whole new universe of opportunity.

So this is why I’m going to Cleveland.  Attending the convention will enable me to keep up with developments in the network marketing business, hear firsthand from eminently successful business leaders, and to share in the excitement from being a part of a huge and ongoing industry.

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

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Finding and Using The Right Word is Pivotal For Clear Writing

At a recent 2-day business symposium I attended, the  written materials furnished to all attendees unfortunately contained a few typos.   One of the more glaring mistakes was where the author wrote “capitol management” instead of “capital management.”  This mistake brought to mind an article I posted back in November , 2012, dealing with word selection.   It is still very relevant today.  Here’s the article, with minor modifications.

Last week’s blog emphasized the need to have correct diction, the choice of correct, clear, and effective words, as a step towards clear writing. There are several pitfalls to avoid.  Being concise in your writing and eliminating excess language is part of this process. Having a powerful vocabulary is also necessary to achieve this goal.   But a strong vocabulary will also help to avoid another pitfall on the road to correct diction – failure to use the exact word.  Using the correct word is of singular importance in your writing.  It ranks right up there with correct spelling.  It is the mark of an accomplished writer.

Searching for, finding, and using, the right word is a process I’ve learned to focus on for many years.   Many years ago I was involved in defending Doris Day’s lawyer, Jerry Rosenthal, against legal malpractice charges.   Despite his many legal shortcomings as found by the court,  I was always impressed with Rosenthal’s writing skills, and in particular with his efforts to find and use the exact word he wanted to express his thinking, whether in writing or speaking. He had a fixation on word selection, and an extensive vocabulary to go with it.  He boasted to me one day that the clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court had advised him that his framing of the issue in a petition he had written was the most clearly worded issue the clerk had ever seen. My involvement in this case and the writing tips I picked up are discussed in more detail in my eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” available at amazon.com/kindlebooks and in print.

Don’t settle for approximations of your thoughts.  Imprecise words and expressions detract from clarity and may cause your reader to question all  other statements you make.  Generalities will roll off a reader like water off a duck’s back.   Accuracy of word usage is what you are after.  The U.S. Government has attempted to encourage the development of better writing in the Plain Writing Act of 2009, which inspired some of the ideas used in my eBook.  This legislation is an attempt by Congress to enhance citizen access to government information by mandating that government documents issued to the public must be written in plain English.  But as pointed out in the Acknowledgements for my eBook, the government’s use of the term “plain writing” is not as accurate as the use of “clear writing” would be, because the former is somewhat ambiguous.  What is “plain” writing?  Is it “plain” because it is not fancy, because it is not written in some esoteric script, or for some other unknown reason?   The mental discipline of searching for and finding the right word will pay huge dividends for you in developing a clear writing style.

The use of the word “cool,” greatly overused in today’s society, is a good example of a word which has no precise meaning. It has little place in formal writing.  Use of precise words to describe exactly what you see in a certain locale is one example of where specificity is greatly needed.  Generalization here will fall flat.  For example, if you were to write that Murphys, California is a “cool” place to visit, the reader would have little understanding of what you mean and would have no incentive to go there.  But if you wrote that it’s nestled in the farmland of the upper San Joaquin Valley, that you must drive through rolling pastoral countryside to get there, that it’s a living remnant of the Old West, and that it’s a shopper’s delight complete with casual dining and a nearby winery, the added specificity will make a visit sound much more inviting.

If you were writing a review of a machine and you simply wrote that it is a “bad” product, this description is far too general. “Bad” is an overworked word and not very specific in this context. But if you wrote that the machine requires far too many repairs to meet acceptable consumer standards, this is an obvious gain in specificity.

An overly general choice of words is frequently the mark of a lazy mind. Sharpen your word selection by resorting to an unabridged dictionary. A general word will usually have many definitions to choose from to make your meaning definite. When a shorter synonym for a word is available, use it. Often you will find that the use of a shorter synonym for the word you are using is the best option. Use common words such as “end” instead of terminate”, “explain” rather than “elucidate,” and “use” instead of “utilize.”

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Remembering President Richard Nixon – 40 Years Later

On March 1, 2012, I published a blog about President Richard Nixon. He resigned from the presidency 40 years ago, on August 9, 1974, the only president to do so. Despite the shadow of Watergate, he accomplished a lot as president. To honor his presidency, here is a reprint of my blog.

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON’S EMBRACE OF “RED CHINA” – A MASTER STROKE OF FOREIGN POLICY.
The impact of relations between the U.S. and China should be examined in the context of President Richard Nixon’s legacy.

Before Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to the U.S. fades from memory, and bearing mind the occasion of President Obama’s visit to China in 2009, it is fitting to put those visits in historical perspective. Recall that it was President Richard Nixon’s historic trip to Peking in 1972, some 40 years ago, which opened the door to improved relations with “Red China,” as the Chinese mainland was then known. This trip took place after two decades of bitter hostility, isolation, and non-existent diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China. The two countries had no framework in place for dealing with each other.

Some would say there is nothing about Richard Nixon worth remembering. But if one can cast aside the disgrace of Watergate and the horrors of Vietnam, horrors he inherited from his predecessor, Lyndon B. Johnson, and focus instead on the visit to China, it stands out as a major foreign policy accomplishment, one which should have earned Nixon the Nobel Peace Prize. Whatever else the personal shortcomings of Richard Nixon were, and there were apparently many, credit should be given where credit is due. Opening up the gateway to China was a brilliant master stroke of foreign policy which revolutionized world diplomacy and world trade. It was all the more remarkable in light of Nixon’s strong anti-communist stance during his political career.

The benefits of Nixon’s decision cannot be understated. What had been a miniscule dollar amount of trade between the two countries, roughly five billion dollars in 1979, has grown to the staggering total of between four hundred billion and five hundred billion dollars today. Moreover, cultural exchanges continue apace, involving many hundreds of exchange students. Last year there were over 3 million mutual visits between the two countries. Further, China, while still harboring a communist government, embraces an emerging capitalist economy, resulting in an ever improving life style for its people. For example, China today is the number one automobile market in the world. American capitalistic icons GM and Ford are strongly entrenched there, as are McDonalds and Coca Cola.

Obama’s 2009 meeting with Chinese President Hu, and his recent meeting with Vice President Jinping is hopefully a harbinger of deepening ties between the two countries, as well as mutual cooperation on trade and other issues.

However, historical perspective notwithstanding, the fact remains that Obama received a tepid response in his efforts to gain China’s cooperation in responding to the global economic showdown. This may be due to China’s recognition that America should focus on its own problems first, or it may be that China is simply not impressed with Obama and his administration.

It is clear that Obama is an excellent politician and a gifted speech maker, but it is equally clear that he is simply a novice when it comes to government management and making major decisions. He has no experience at all in administration and governing of anyone or anything. In other words, he comes across as a lightweight president, a figurehead, who has yet to prove himself as a leader. So, China has humored him, adopting a wait and see attitude before agreeing to anything. It remains to be seen whether Obama will have any real impact on the course of world affairs or whether he will be swept into the dustbin of history.

Copyright 11/20/09, updated 2/27/12, All Rights Reserved. Arnold G. Regardie.

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Writing Goals For Clear Writing

To become an accomplished writer is not an easy task. But to write clearly is a goal eminently worthy of achievement. There are many pitfalls to to be encountered on the road to clear writing. Here are a few.

Lack of experience in writing will show up first. The best approach to achieve clear writing is to just write. You just have to do it. There’s only so much reading you can do about writing before you actually start to write. It’s just like reading about hitting a golf ball or tennis ball – you just have to go out and do it to become really proficient. The more you write, the better you will become. You will also gain one very indispensable element – self confidence.

There are also goals to reach for in the process of overcoming impediments to improving your writing. The first is to write with a purpose and this in turn requires knowledge of your subject matter. This is key. If you don’t know what you’re writing about your readers will see it quickly. This kind of writing will damage your credibility immeasurably and cause your readers to regard your work product with justified skepticism. So to insure writing success, know your subject matter thoroughly. Become an expert on it. This will pay vast dividends for you.

It is also important to know your target audience – know who you’re writing for. It makes a big difference so far as your content is concerned if you’re writing for a sophisticated readership or for people who are less knowledgeable. If your writing is over the heads of your readers it will fall flat. If it is too elementary it will not be well received. So you must know who you’re writing for.

Use an everyday approach in your writing. Write like people talk, in a conversational tone. Avoid jargon or legalese where possible.

Emphasize important points by underlining, capitalizing, or otherwise highlighting them. This will help your readers to focus on what you’re really trying to say. Hit these points hard to draw attention to your message.

Be concise in your writing. Avoid long, rambling explanations. A good discipline is to start off each paragraph with a topic sentence. Fill that paragraph with subject matter that is relevant to that sentence. Good paragraphing can go a long way to holding a reader’s interest. Short paragraphs are often better than long, drawn out ones.

Learn to punctuate correctly. Good punctuation pays off by helping the reader to digest your writing and by showing the reader you really know something about writing.

Use the right word. Having a workable vocabulary is an indispensable tool to clear writing. It is worth extra time on your road to clear writing to work on vocabulary building. Look up and list all new words. Read extensively. Learn how experienced writers use their words – this can be an education in itself and well worth the while.

Finally, avoid spelling errors at all costs. Poor spelling will mark you as an amateur faster than anything else.
Read and reread your manuscript over and over to make sure all spelling is correct. In this process polish it up so that it flows smoothly. Also important is visual attractiveness. A long, dense paper with poor spacing and paragraphing will discourage a reader from reading it.

As you can see clear writing requires close attention to many aspects of writing. There is more, much more to be said but these points will help you immensely on the road to writing success.

All of this and more is covered in my book, “The Art of Clear Writing,” available on amazon.com kindle books and in print.

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

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Adding Sound and Color To Your Writing – Still A Viable Concept

Over a year ago I wrote about adding sound and color to your writing. It still makes sense today. For those of you who missed that blog, here is what I wrote:

Clear writing requires a writer to have command of words and use of proper syntax. Both are essential to become an accomplished writer. Syntax is defined as the orderly, logical sequence of words to have maximum effect on the reader.

To me however, syntax is indistinguishable from sound and color. I cannot conceive of a situation where a writer can have good syntax and not have sound and color. For this reason sound and color have no such ready definition as syntax does. These elements of writing depend on the writer developing a feel, an ear, for his writing. For most writers, this only comes with time and experience. So, how do you know when you have it?

The ability to develop sound and color in your writing really depends on how well you apply yourself to the task of writing. I have consistently stressed my belief that clear writing is an art form, which can be attained with constant regular practice. It is only through the pursuit of this undertaking that you will come to recognize your voice as a writer.

It is hard to add sound and color to your writing unless you know what it is. The rhythm of your writing will reflect its sound and color. Listen to your writing as you write, then revise it to achieve effective rhythm. This means choosing words that fit in well with surrounding words. Jerky or monotonous sentences lack sound and color.

For example, the following sentence is repetitious and somewhat monotonous:

He was an exceedingly orderly company commander. When promoted, he became an efficient regimental commander.

Improved version:

As a company commander, he did things by the book; as a regimental commander, his efficiency was unsurpassed.

In the following example, sentence fluency has been hampered by excessive modification:

The man in the car opened the
door quickly and went hurriedly
into the restaurant.

Improved version:

The driver quickly abandoned the
car and vanished into the restaurant.

There are two ways to know when your writing has sound and color. First, you will feel it in your writing; the second, a bit more objective, a reader will remain fixed on what you have written and then compliment you on it.

The late William Manchester was a superb writer; the pages of his writing full of sound and color. His biography, “Winston Spencer Churchill, The Last Lion – Visions of Glory: 1874-1952”, Dell Publishing, 1983, speaks for itself. The following passage, (p. 7), is illustrative:

“Men who think of themselves as indispensable are almost always wrong,
but Winston Churchill was surely that then. He was like the lion in Revelation, ‘the first beast,’ with ‘six wings about him’ and ‘full of eyes within.’ In an uncharacteristically modest moment on his eightieth birthday he said: ‘It was the nation and the race dwelling all around the globe that had the lion’s heart; I had the luck to be called upon to give the lion’s roar.’ It wasn’t that simple. The spirit, if indeed within them, lay dormant until he became prime minister and they, kindled by his soaring prose, came to see themselves as he saw them and emerged a people transformed, the admiration of free men everywhere.”

Adding sound and color to your writing doesn’t apply to every writing project. It may not fit at all into, say, a simple job application. But the experience of trying to add sound and color to your writing will help you acquire an ear for your writing, that sense of knowing the power of your words. It will help you to write more efficiently and more clearly.

As has been oft-mentioned in my book “The Art of Clear Writing,” (available on amazon.com through kindle books and in print), clear writing is not easy. But the point bears emphasis. It takes work, lots of work. That’s the surest way, however, to improve the clarity of your writing. I’m reminded of books I’ve read about trying to hit a golf ball or a tennis ball. There’s only so much reading you can do before you actually go out and swing a gold club or a tennis racket. So it is with writing. Mastery of the guidelines and techniques explained in my book will go a long way to improve the clarity of your writing, but you still have to write to achieve maximum effect.

Copyright © 2013. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved

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Free Enterprise – The Key To Reducing Unemployment

I am in the business of network marketing, a business which can be very rewarding depending on one’s dedication. The other day a speaker at one of our regular weekly meetings, a marvelous speaker by the way and one who has been eminently successful in the business, talked about slavery. The speaker, an Afro-American, likened people who are stuck in present day economic ruts to those who were once bound in involuntary servitude. It was a profound message. Those who put their minds to it were able to escape slavery. Those who have the right mindset can escape unpleasant present day circumstances.

The key is mindset, which can be the answer to the economic doldrums of many Americans today. To put it another way, financial freedom can be had by those who are willing and determined to get it. I am a strong believer in capitalism, bolstered by free trade. It may not be a perfect system but it has resulted in unparallelled economic growth for the United States. To be a successful entrepreneur is to know and enjoy the life most people only dream about.

Today’s economy is struggling, beset by overly big government and an administration in Washington that simply doesn’t understand business, to put it mildly. It is an administration which believes that government can solve all, or at least most, problems. It is the wrong approach. The emphasis should be on reducing the role of government in everyday life and encouraging individualism. Successful entrepreneurs should not be punished by excessive regulation and confiscatory taxes. In California for example, a new corporation must pay a minimum of $800 in franchise taxes, whether successful or not. This is one of the reasons California has become known for an unfriendly business climate.

But despite the struggling economy, there are still rewards to be had, opportunities to be pursued. This was the point of the speaker I referred to above. Many people simply accept present day circumstances without really trying to find a way out. They are “slaves” to a situation they don’t enjoy. Obstacles can be overcome, and there are obstacles in every walk of life. But there are also results which reward those who persevere many times over. As part of my business, I read about success stories every month in the magazine I get as part of my business, stories that come from all over the world. People overcome incredible hardships once they put their minds to it.

I believe network marketing provides an opportunity to take yourself out of the ranks of the unemployed or underemployed, if that’s where you are, and to “promote” yourself to a position to secure your financial future. Don’t let the lack of money stop your mission in life. I got into the business to help a family member improve his circumstances. I was well past normal retirement age when I signed up, but I’m a firm believer in the old adage, “better late than never.” So its not too late, or too early for that matter, to get started.

At a business convention I attended recently, Donald Trump was one of the featured speakers. Among other things, he said that he wants to see America great again. Amen to that! But also, importantly, he emphasized that mindset is important, vital, to success. Do not quit. Be tenacious. Make up your mind you’re going to succeed. Every person living in this great country and enjoying its many freedoms has an obligation to make it better, to give something back. You can do your part by helping yourself, and others, to a happier life.

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

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A Centennial Salute To The Babe

Lost amid all of the swirling problems arising from the Middle East and the Ukraine, among others, and the many scandals engulfing Barack Obummer, er, Obama, is the fact that this year marks the 100th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s breaking into major league baseball. Babe Ruth is one of the great athletes produced by this country. His feats deserve some recognition in this centennial year.

It was 100 years ago, 1914, that The Babe, as a 19 year old, jumped from reform school into the major leagues. Enrolled at St. Mary’s School for Boys, Baltimore, Maryland, since he was about 6 years old, in and out since then but mostly in, he was signed to his first professional contract with the then minor league Baltimore Orioles. Later that year he was sold to the Boston Red Sox.

Hidden among his many batting feats is the fact that Ruth was a premier American League pitcher for many years. He won 89 games for the Red Sox from 1914 to 1919, including 23 wins one year and 24 another. He also pitched 29 consecutive scoreless World Series innings during that stretch, a record that lasted for many years.

In 1919, after recognizing Ruth’s value as a hitter, Ruth became an every day player, playing as a full time outfielder for Boston. It was a momentous year for Ruth as he hit 29 home runs, setting a new major league record. No one had ever hit that many home runs in a single season before. But the best was yet to come.

Following the 1919 season, Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees. Harry Frazee, who owned the Red Sox, was also a Broadway producer and he needed money for a new show, “No No Nanette.” The sale of his biggest star helped to ease his financial strain.

In 1920, his first year as a Yankee, Ruth hit 54 home runs, an astounding feat, and another single season home run record. Ruth thus virtually single handedly helped the world of baseball awake from its lethargy following the Black Sox scandal of 1919, as fans clamored to get a glimpse of this budding new star. And then in 1921, as if to prove the previous year was no fluke, he hit 59 home runs, yet another single season record, the third year in a row for new home run records, a feat never since duplicated, as he led the Yankees to their first American League pennant. It was the first of many to come.

The 1920s was to see Ruth continue to hammer out home runs, including 60 in 1927, a record that stood for many years. In 1925, he was joined in the Yankee lineup by first baseman Lou Gehrig, who batted fourth, right behind the Babe. Together they became an integral part of the famous “murderers row” as the lineup was to become known, a lineup that was to give headaches to many pitchers in the coming years.

Ruth retired in 1935, finishing with 714 career home runs, a record that stood until finally eclipsed by Henry Aaron many years later. He was one of the charter members of baseball’s Hall of Fame, being one of the first five players elected in 1936.

Babe Ruth was truly a giant among baseball players. No one else in the annals of baseball has been both an outstanding pitcher as well as a great hitter. Ruth did a lot for the game of baseball. His accomplishments should be remembered as long as the game is played.

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

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