June 19, 2024

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REVIEW: 'Smart Brevity'
Smart Brevity® count: 776 words | 3½ minutes 
Axios helps corporations conquer your brain.
Simple, arresting art:

What’s happening: “We are getting slapped silly with an explosion of minute-by-minute distractions … it’s the madness of the modern mind.”
Who said it: Axios cofounders Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy Schwartz in their new book, Smart Brevity.
WHY IT MATTERS: Your attention is a commodity. Axios is selling a product to help corporations acquire your attention so they can package it for resale like a mortgage-backed security. And improve your life. And “promote inclusivity.” And “empower everyone.”
(Go deeper at SmartBrevity.com)
The authors present useful tips for how to win the war by cutting through the constant, slapping explosions.
1) Use bullet points
♥ “A wonderful way to isolate important facts or ideas.”
♥ Most people have already stopped reading by now.
2) Put it in bold — “It’s darker and more detectable than italics.” 
3) Deploy STRONG words — “Better than soft and soggy ones.”
4) Tell readers how to think
→ This is a particularly insightful piece of advice.
5) Use clean, intuitive visuals

DECLARE WAR: Communication is the “central front” of the post-pandemic workplace revolution. “Those who do it crisply, authentically, forthrightly will win. Those clinging to the closed, cluttered ways of the past will perish.”
♥ After reading this book, “Your voice and words will pop and echo like never before … the algorithms will begin to reward you.”
♥ Embracing Smart Brevity® will “save CEOs and managers countless hours, align companies around their missions, unleash creativity and clarify what matters most.”
♥ Smart Brevity® has helped make Axios media newsletters “among the best-read and most lucrative in America.”
Be smart: The authors explain how Smart Brevity® can improve every aspect of our daily corporate lives.
→ Knock the HR associate off her feet with your ruthlessly concise sexual harassment complaints.
→ “Test out micro-meetings.” Five to 10 minutes is more than enough. Bad things happen when work gatherings are structured inefficiently—just ask Jeffrey Toobin’s former colleagues.
(Take your game to the next level with Axios HQ software. Learn more at SmartBrevity.com)
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Learn more.
1) Is Smart Brevity smart?
→ Kind of. It identifies a problem (bad writing, internet-induced brain damage) and offers a solution (edit your writing style to accommodate damaged brains).
2) Is Smart Brevity brief?
→ Kind of. (218 pages, 106 minutes.) Felt longer; could have been shorter. Lots of pictures, though.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: Industry leaders can’t stop raving about Smart Brevity.
♥ “A critical tool for effective communication that empowers everyone to make their voices heard,” says Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snap.
♥ “If you try to spin or bullshit me, I’m out,” says Lisa Osborne Ross, U.S. CEO of Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm.
♥ “A road map for policymakers, business heads and many others,” says Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase and “one of the first people” the authors told about their plans to launch Axios.
FUN FACT: BP was the first large company to seize the power of Smart Brevity®. With the help of Axios HQ, executives at the multinational oil conglomerate have “architected the core aspects of their internal and external messaging around this philosophy.” (Go deeper at SmartBrevity.com)

In the chapter on how to master the art of the emoji, the authors urge readers to “Take an emoji for a 🏃🏿. Your results will be 🥇.”
The bottom line: That’s racist.
♥ It perpetuates a harmful stereotype. Not all black men are athletically gifted.
♥ It’s offensive to differently abled individuals who can’t run.
Why it matters: The Axios cofounders insist that Smart Brevity® can help “bridge differences in backgrounds and abilities” by “naturally cleansing much of the cultural bias and complexity from the author.” Maybe not.
Holy crap: These are the same people who apologized for using the phrase “killers with humility ” to describe the ideal Axios employee after critics complained it was “too masculine and could scare off possible candidates.”
THE TAKEAWAY: Smart Brevity is a useful tool for corporations seeking to conquer the internet-addled minds of their employees and customers alike.
→ You can’t beat them, obviously, but you can join them by using bolded words and bullet points and telling them what to think.
→ Companies that adopt Smart Brevity® will be able to communicate their benevolence more effectively by providing snappier updates on their most recent diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
Dig deeper: If you want to implement Smart Brevity® in your organization, company, team, division, working group, book club, rehab facility, or multilevel marketing venture then visit SmartBrevity.com.
Smart Brevity: The Power of Saying More With Less
by Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy Schwartz
Workman Publishing, 224 pp., $27
Published under: Axios, Book reviews
2022 All Rights Reserved


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