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future of work remote working writing

Merry Christmas🎄✨

An ode to offline. I’ll be back on January 9.

Thank you for all your support this year.

May this holiday season bring you lots of love, joy and happiness!

Here’s to 2022.

Nicci 🙋🏻‍♀️

Ps, I’d love to know what products and services you’ve found useful and the best book you’ve read this year. Doing a quick roundup to share.

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Newsletter productivity remote working writing

✍️How to create a writing culture

How does remote work change the way companies get things done?

David Perell (Write of Passage) said, “Remote work leads to writing-centric companies instead of speaking-centric ones.” Amazon and Stripe have a heavy writing culture. Amazon is famous for its six-page narratives, and Jeff Bezos is a brilliant writer. 

We don’t do PowerPoint (or any other slide-oriented) presentations at Amazon. Instead, we write narratively structured six-page memos. When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences and complete paragraphs, it forces a deeper clarity of thinking.

Here’s how to write like an Amazonian 🚀

The GitLab team handbook is their central repository for how they run the company. Over 2000 pages of text, and as part of their value of being transparent, it’s open-source. Darren Murph, GitLab’s Head of Remote, has talked about the importance of having a Chief Documentarian and writing everything down with remote teams. 

Bill Gates was on it in ‘99. New Rules: collaborative culture & digital information flow.

I read all the e-mail that employees send me, and I pass items on to people for action. I find unsolicited mail an incredibly good way to stay aware of the attitudes and issues affecting the many people who work at Microsoft. 

Better writing  Better thinking  Better communication  Clear leadership  Boosts productivity

Writing democratises ideas and lets teams have their say. It breaks down workplace politics—you’re not relying on verbal accounts, 1:1s or presenteeism to get stuff done. Transparency and good documentation build trust. Josh Bernoff“Clear leadership, expressed in writing, creates alignment and boosts productivity.” 

How Stripe built a writing culture ✍️

David Perell asked Brie Wolfson, who worked at Stripe for five years and set up Stripe Press to talk to his students about how companies can create a writing culture. 

Out of their conversations, she made this stellar guide 🚀

I’ve come to believe that Stripe’s culture of writing is one of the organization’s greatest superpowers. As startup whisperer patio11 puts it, Stripe is a celebration of the written word which happens to be incorporated in the state of Delaware.

Stripe has always treated documentation as a first-class product. People from every corner of the company author blog posts. The company publishes a magazine about building and operating software (Increment) and books about technological and economic progress (Stripe Press). 

But what we don’t see is the massive library of content produced in-house for employees. She says that’s where the real magic happens…

This interview digs into the company culture. Go deep and move fast.

One thing that distinguishes Stripe is that it’s an incredibly deep-thinking culture. It’s a written culture really focused on getting to the right answer. 

Another thing is a sense of urgency. The company is especially dedicated to moving very, very fast.  

Bring the Donuts

Ann Handley is also brilliant on this stuff. How to champion a content-oriented culture—the key to a customer-centric, intuitive, empathic point of view.

We don’t appreciate the work that goes into minute-taking—it’s bloody hard work!


🛠🖐5 Things 

★ Stop Asking QuestionsHow to lead high impact interviews and learn anything from anyone (Holloway). Lessons from a veteran podcast host with 2000+ episodes on the secrets of deeper conversation. It teaches you how to interview and how to learn. Excerpt here. I can’t get enough of Holloway’s brilliant books!

⟶ Stop Asking Questions

★ How to take smart notes (Forte Labs). Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says the secret of her career success is down to diligent and reliable notetaking. A simple technique to boost your writing, learning and thinking. Have a listen to Tiago’s interview and Q&A with the author, Sönke Ahren here.

⟶ How to take smart notes.

★ Field Notes: Miami (Devon Zuegel). What’s it like to live in Miami, the new tech hub? Writer and Product Director Devon Zuegel on what makes Miami special. The colours! The flowers! Immigrant spirit. These field notes are a bit different from previous cities she’s explored because Miami is her home. I’m listening to Order Without Design, her new podcast about cities.

⟶ Field Notes: Miami

★ Exotic and sustainable, night trains are coming back to Europe. The ‘Euro Night Sprinter’ map is utopian, but Europe’s rail future could look a lot like it. It’s a proposal by the German Greens, who want a Europe-wide network of sleeper trains. By 2030, it would connect more than 200 cities and places across Europe. Slow, comfortable travel. All aboard! 🙏

⟶ Euro Night Sprinter Network

★ A Twitter thread from Dickie Bush with advanced tips for every internet tool. Starting with Twitter – 10 advanced features, how to master Google search, Google docs, YouTube rabbit holes, Mac tips and more. One to bookmark and return to when well-caffeinated – there’s a lot to digest here.

⟶ Advanced tips for every internet tool.

🤔 Major Lifehack: A New Study Has Found That A Key To Getting Stuff Done Is Not Just Sort Of Wasting The Hours Between 3 And 7 PM Every Day.

Categories
AI Content writing

What if a robot could write your copy?

– The Shift: A weekly-ish newsletter about our work-from-anywhere future and making money online.

– Get your free subscription to The Shift, a weekly letter about our working from anywhere world—and how to make money on it.

– Learn from industry experts as they share their stories, tools, and resources for building a location-independent business.

Jarvis AI

That was written by AI – not bad, eh? 

I gave it a few words about my newsletter as a prompt – and it wrote that in seconds.

Jarvis is the latest AI writing assistant I’ve come across – thanks to Marianne Lehnis, who suggested it. These tools have been around for a while, but the new AI GPT-3 based writers go a step further and help you write long-form copy – ad copy, sales pitches, emails, product descriptions, social media and more. 

I’ve used it for client work and content pieces, and it’s a very cool tool. Fun to use: it’s made me laugh, surprised me, given me ideas, and saved me time. I’m trialling Boss Mode (the most advanced package💲) and have barely scratched the surface (53 templates, recipes, commands, long-form content), but it’s given me a sense of how powerful it is. 

I asked Jarvis to rewrite my bio:

I am a woman of many hats. I am the author of Remote: Office Not Required and Chief Tingler at Tingler Inc.

I’m Nicci. I write about remote work and building an online business. My favourite thing to do is go on adventures, make friends with animals, and take long walks in nature.

Spot on, Jarvis!! 

Open AI’s GPT-3 is described by Marketing Brew as ‘kind of a big deal’ – among the most advanced language models in existence.

Large language models are powerful machine learning algorithms with one key job description: identifying large-scale patterns in text. The models use those patterns to “parrot” human-like language. And they quietly underpin services like Google Search—used by billions of people worldwide—and predictive text software, such as Grammarly.

Emerging Tech Brew’s Hayden Field.

The goal is to humanise AI and help you write smarter, faster – and get over Blank Page Syndrome. The better you describe what you want to write, the higher quality content Jarvis will help produce.

Super useful for content marketers, digital agencies, and anyone who needs to generate a lot of content. The long-form option (Pro + Boss Mode) is a game-changer – interesting to see on Facebook that people are using it to write books.

It won’t steal your writing job. You get well written generic copy, the first draft as a base to tweak from. It’s not for complex articles, fact-checking or emotional aspects. This post by Danny Veiga, a digital marketer, was written by Jarvis – he told Marketing Brew Jarvis wrote about 80% of it, with 20% fact-checking. 

I see it as part of my writing toolkit. It’s helped me generate ideas, perspective, given me a creative boost and saved me time. Jarvis is a workhorse! 100% remote and 24/7 *shoulders drop*. Forget the threat – embrace the tech and use it to sell your services and promote yourself – 5 x your content in minutes! Read this now! 

Jarvis has over 30,000 users from companies including Shopify, Google, Canva, Zillow, Airbnb, Stripe, lots of positive reviews, and an active Facebook community. Learning in public – good to see them flagging issues and solutions, responsive to feedback and improving the product.

You can sign up for a free five-day trial here (Nicci on steroids – gives me a few more credits to play with) – I promise not to send you five newsletters next week 🤖

Have you tried Jarvis or any other AI writing tools? I use Grammarly Pro, but this is in a different league.


🔗🖐5 Things  

💸Twitter Tips – their latest experiment now lets you tip anyone with cash or crypto (via mobile). Twitter seems to have gone mad introducing new features to try and get up to speed with other networks – rolling stuff out to see what sticks – at least they’re experimenting in public. But if the content is freely available, where’s the incentive for users to pay? Good overview by TechCrunch.

🎙Burnout and exhaustion while working in content – you’re not alone (Content Rookie). I love this podcast. Interesting chat with Jane Ruffino and Candi Williams on setting boundaries at work and moving the conversation from productivity to burnout. How scale (scarcity mindset) shouldn’t drive a company over growth and community (abundance mindset). ‘We shouldn’t have to constantly perform ambition to do well.’ There’s a pressure to upskill – especially in an emerging field like UX.

👩‍💻Letting go of perfection – I wrote a piece for The Portfolio Collective on the rise of perfectionism as a cultural issue and how we can keep it in check – some strategies that have helped me. One of the members, Zarir ‘Zed’ Vakil said: “One tip I use for avoiding toxic perfectionism is being outcome-focused and always taking action. This avoids procrastination and rumination.”

🕵🏻‍♀️Reinvigorate your career by taking the right kind of risk – inspiring piece by Whitney Johnson on taking smart risks. Exploring underserved areas of your industry and crafting a new role for yourself, staying in your current job and inventing a new product or service or switching industries. Finding the gap – what no one else is doing – and creating opportunities – businesses don’t disrupt, people do.

📕Free book! Collaborate: Bring people together around digital projects by Ellen de Vries (Gather Content). Content is about people and collaboration – how to think about the work you do as a collaborator in your day-to-day life – and some practical activities to test out. How to work with others online efficiently – this will be helpful to anyone in digital, not just content people. Via the excellent & new Working in Content.


The future of work is now

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Help me plant an Ecologi forest! To offset the carbon emissions of my online work, I plant 12 trees every month via Ecologi. We’ve got 10 years to sort this out – no time to waste.

Categories
Portfolio careers productivity Small business writing

How to be a thought leader

Thought leadership is a bit of a marketing buzzword – vague and cringey, and unlike lead generation, hard to measure.

There’s no recipe for success. 

What does it mean on a day-to-day level for your business – and how do you do it well?  

The Portfolio Collective have invited me to speak at an event on ‘Raising your flag and becoming a thought leader’ and share my experiences on how I’ve done it with the future of work community and wider audience.

Thought leadership is about how people in your industry (and your customers) perceive you. 

  • James Clear (the habits guy) 
  • David Perell (the writing guy)
  • Pieter Levels (the nomad guy)
  • Amy Porterfield (the digital marketing gal)
  • Rosie Sherry (the community gal)
  • Bret Contrevis (the glute guy)
  • Ben Legg (the portfolio career guy) 

A niche focus makes you memorable.

One of my clients, a property agent, wanted to be the No #1 international agent in Berlin. So we positioned him as the ‘Berlin champion’, and put his face on the side of their black cabs so he was visible across the city. He wasn’t afraid to criticise government policy and say why it was harming the housing market so had a reputation as honest and trustworthy. Many of their leads were long-term clients.

How to be a thought leader

Think about your overall strategy and take a high-level overview before you decide on the content mix. What problem are you solving with your product/service? How are you going to get people from A to B? 

Some food for thought on the three types of thought leadership:

  1. Industry (a point of view on news, trends + the future)
  2. Organisational (company culture, talent development) 
  3. Product (how-to, best practices, strategy)

Do all three if you can, and if relevant: develop your point of view and then create content. If you’re overstretched (companies have teams working on this stuff), focus on one area and do it well. It can feel overwhelming for solopreneurs, so start small and be a thought leader for your clients and customers first, to build trust. 

Look at engagement over metrics – time on pages of your website and how many articles people read is more important than views and impressions. 

Thought leadership takes time, energy, consistency and authenticity, but it’s hugely rewarding and can transform your business. It’s not about self-promotion. As Alexandra Galviz (Authentic Alex), #LinkedInLocal co-founder, says: 

It’s not just about sharing your ideas; it’s also about inspiring others into action. 

Thought – give yourself time to think, observe, and horizon scan. Don’t fill every nook and cranny of your day. 

Leadership – have a point of view and don’t say the same as everyone else. 

I disagree with David Soloman, Goldman Sachs CEO, on remote work being an ‘aberration’, but I respect his opinion, and he’s been quoted everywhere. 

Some good advice from Tammy Ammon, Director of Thought Leadership at Acxiom, after a year on the job. 

She spent the first few weeks defining the role and mapping existing pieces of content. Content creation is a huge part of it – a passion for storytelling and strategy. Move through the organisation at all levels to have a broad view and perspective to share with your audience. 

Listen in on meetings, network on LinkedIn, and have monthly chats with your team about issues, no agenda. Manage your time – know what topics need your input and what you can delegate. You can’t do it all. 

Good books: Dorie Clark’s Entrepreneurial You – insights from building a high six-figure solo consulting business, and Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: the story of success

What’s working for you? Come and share your experiences at the Fireside Chat on 12 November.

Nicci 


🖐5 things

✍️How to create a Wiki in 9 simple steps – a guide and template. Every company needs a Wiki! It helps keep communication open with remote teams. I’m building one for myself – mission, vision, values, culture, tools and processes, passwords, resources for personal development. Great for onboarding, speeds up the day-to-day and focuses your mind.

💸Mirror.xyz – a new tool for writers working on crypto and blockchain. I’ve seen a few posts about this, but not many reviews, so I got on Reddit and Medium – good articles by Tim Denning and Casey Botticello on how it differs from traditional publishing platforms, and how you can make money on it. Exciting! I’ve been trying to sign up but having issues with the website.

💌Newsletters could be the next (and only) hope to save the media. As the journalism industry collapses, writers are turning to newsletters to make money and launch publications. Premium subs are still a tiny part of the market, and writers make money in other ways. I can’t see people paying $10/mo for several newsletters – these little things add up. I subscribe to Every – a bundle of newsletters on work and productivity – like a magazine.

✈️Africa is calling! Cabo Verde has launched a nomad visa to attract 4000 remote workers over the next three years for its DN programme. Ten sunny islands to explore – they’ve had virtually no tourism since 2020. See the best of Cabo Verde on Insta here. The national drink is Grogue, a rum at 60%, which will blow your socks off.

🎧Ways to make working remotely less lonely. It’s not talked about enough, and it’s among the biggest challenges faced by remote workers. Switching off is my biggest challenge, but this is a close second. My clients are global, so there are no team events. My networking is online so I’m going to start a local remote worker group. The team at Flexiple share some creative ways to deal with it – personally, at a company level, and in your community.