My Approach to Writing
“Is he one of us?” I had been running focus groups with the pastors of America’s mega churches and was in Colorado Springs to deliver my findings. As with all clients, I had to be very precise in the terminology I used and get my tone exactly right for my audience – but in this context, even moreso than usual. So I was delighted to overhear, at the end of a long day
and in a positive tone: “Is he one of us?”
As a consultant and as a writer, my ability to tune into a company culture, to adopt its language, to understand its metrics – but also to shine light into its blind spots, these are all the qualities that help me do my best work.
People ask what is my formula for success. I’m actually not too sure. I know that I’m a people watcher and have worked for many years in inter-cultural research and that no doubt makes me more sensitive to culture. Moreover, I lived and worked in France
for almost 20 years and, as you will know if you have ever lived abroad or even travelled widely,
you just cannot take culture for granted and you have to learn to read it.
I also seem to have an uncanny ability to learn about an industry very quickly and therefore be able to take the rare and privileged view of an ‘outsider who is also an insider’. At a pitch presentation, I was asked: “Frankly, Chris, what do you know about the offices rental marketplace?” and my challenging reply was: “At this moment in time, not much….but is that a problem?” There ensued a long silence where I was able to contemplate my future financial situation! Happily the tolling bells were interrupted by the following reply: “Probably not. We need someone to take a fresh view and get past our cultural baggage and taboos. Convince us that you can get to grips quickly with our metrics and terminology and we’ll appoint you”. I went on to work with them across Europe and then to run hothouse workshops for them and their clients in Tokyo, Shanghai, Mumbai and three other Asian cities.
Lovely work if you can get it.
But, what other uniqueness do I bring to my writing? Forced to boast, as I must, I would add two elements. Firstly, I’m a businessman who knows how to write – not a journalist who knows something about business. This is a crucial, distinction. And I’ve thirty years of business experience – both agency and client-side to back up this claim. I’ve worked with and for businesses with offices in 70 countries and with those employing just 70 people – and enjoyed both equally.
And I’ve got down and dirty for 100 clients in over 30 business sectors and on 5 different Continents.
I have earnt the T-shirt, as they say.
Secondly, my life’s work has been in strategy: corporate, marketing and branding. So I’m well versed in research, analysis, recommending solutions and communicating them in effective ways. In short, when I write, I bring a consulting mindset, and my aim is to put down words that drive the business agenda and create a specific impact. And that counts for a lot.