An Interesting Life

William Zinsser is a bit of a genius. His book On Writing Well changed at least my writing, if not my life. We'll talk more about that at another time, but for now, remember that his four rules for good writing are as follows: clarity, brevity, simplicity, and humanity.

In a recent acceptance speech at his high school alma mater, Zinsser told his audience that what he,  now in his 80s,  has in common with them, in high school, is that they all want the same thing: to have an interesting life.

What a beautifully simple concept.

Just have an interesting life. Isn't that enough? How much more satisfying than, say, "to make a ton of money," or "to win a Grammy," or "to sell my company."

Sorry if I've started the year off on a self-help tangent. But just think how you might live differently if you adopt that as your goal.

What does this have to do with marketing? Well, everything. How much better could you do your job if your life was more interesting? How much more interesting would your brand be if you were more interesting. And what about the goal of building an interesting brand?

The analytics folks are going to say "Yes, but whats the ROI of being interesting?" To that I ask you: What's the ROI of not being interesting?

See, it turns out people like interesting brands, and the interesting people behind them. You don't have to like these people, but I'm sure you'll agree that Steve Jobs is interesting, Jay-Z is interesting, Phil Knight is interesting. You may not know much about Dietrich Mateschitz, Ferdinand Porsche, or Asa Griggs Candler, but a lot of people find that Red Bull, Porsche, and Coca-Cola very interesting.

What if your boss (client, board, etc.) told you that your mandate for 2011 is to make the brand interesting? What would that look like? What would you do differently? And how would that affect your excitement for the coming year?

YouTube Fireside Chats // Down With Us

Man, these guys are right on it. President-Elect Obama announced last week that he'll be addressing the world weekly via YouTube and radio broadcasts. That's what I'm talking about!

You might be wondering — Why? He already got elected, what does he need to do that for? How will he have time to do this? — and things of that nature.

Obama's platform was a little thing we like to call change. What he really meant to say was that he's a Rebel. Apparently, he believes in the things we believe in, such as transparency, and conversation. Maybe he understands that if he engages the public in regular, relevant conversations, they will continue to support his brand. See my last post about this: a lot of people felt invested in the outcome of the election for the very first time, and now part of the President's job is to keep them engaged.

This is the right way to do that: go where the people are, do something relevant to them, and be your brand.

You can watch the first address here.