Posted on: May 20, 2020
What is the biggest edge that today’s tech titans had over their early competitors?
Perhaps it was the founder, or maybe the first head of operations. How do I know?
The pinnacles of entrepreneurism are reached by those who can tell a better story. Persuasion is key to success. While there are tales of early investments coming from someone who is very good at speaking on their feet, as companies grow, they need to deploy messaging campaigns. That takes very good writing.
So if you want to excel in tech, make sure that you know how to write or at least recognize good writing.
Sure, you’re thinking. Tech is about code. Not even luck, because with great code, you can pivot to any opportunity. Well, let’s consider developing a killer app:
Code. Realize a need. Code. Make a new process. Code. Make an established process better. Code. Create a smoother UX. Code. Adapt for multiple platforms. Code. Code more. Alpha test. Code. Beta test. Code.
Done, right? Oh, so you must be fine with no one beyond your colleagues and the beta testers knowing about your killer app.
If you do want more users, you had better have some words that not only tell other people that your app exists and how to use it, but that they absolutely have to use it and no one else’s. You need to convince users that your app is key to their better future.
You have to persuade. This is the most artful form of communication. Not only does persuasion need to be clear (what do you want them to do?) but it also needs to keep people’s attention and be easy to share.
Where do you develop the skills of written persuasion? English class. You know, that course where you read and write about stories.
What are stories other than masterful examples of persuasion? A good story is clear (eventually), telling us something about the characters. It keeps the reader’s attention, sometimes through thousands of pages and multiple reading sessions. Great stories are memorable, at least the broad themes. Readers tell others how they just have to read this book. Sometimes studios transform the words into sound and vision. The author and/or their publisher enjoy the revenue stream and produces more. There is a veritable industry around stories and sequels and prequels and yet more stories.
English class, along with other arts and humanities classes, are where you get exposure to and develop the critical eye to learn how to understand how stories do it. How to assemble words into sentences and paragraphs so that you could persuade someone else to consider your idea. You study poems and novels and plays and essays and opinions. Some of these are well known. Others are legendary. The fact that they have become standards of teaching or epics of culture speak to the persuasiveness of the words to be read and remembered.
So if you want to dominate in tech, to become known as the magic spinner who’s got just what companies and customers need to make their lives better, you need to learn how to spin the magic of words.
If that’s you personally, you have an incredible advantage. But if writing is not your forte, at least be sure to use your critical reading skills to identify good stories. When you are building the team that will change the world, you will need excellent writers. Make sure that you can identify their skill before your competitors do.
Still not convinced? Think of every tech titan who is well known by the public. Why are they household names for people who only know that they started the company that makes those things they could not live without? Remembered and even adored by people who do not know the first thing about coding?
Those who appear in public and deliver memorable talks about what their company does, what their vision is, why you need to buy their products, are excellent storytellers. They tell stories that persuade audiences to pay attention. While the storyteller might not be the storywriter, knowing how a story is structured is key to delivering it well. Also, that storyteller has the good sense to employ a crack team of writers so they are remembered and talked about. So if you’re a STEM student with dreams of winning in T, make sure that you practice W and R too. Because Tech that’s released without Writing persuasive Reading materials is doomed to become tech that’s used by only one. Actually, it quickly becomes tech used by none, because customers, including you, flock to that persuasive ad campaign by your competitors.