9 Mistakes You’re Probably Making When Sending Email

How many hours a day do you spend writing emails?

We love it, we hate it — we can’t stop using it. Many of us spend a quarter of our working days in email, writing to each other, moving projects forward, connecting to new people.

Email is a form of everyday writing — and if you’re writing poorly, in a rush, or you don’t know how to compose your message for maximum impact, you can end up losing business, friends, or missing out on opportunities.

For all the hacks there are in email efficiency, sometimes we forget to hack ourselves — and use our words more cleverly to get what we want.

Here are 9 mistakes you might be making in email — and how to fix them.

1. Sending emails only when you need something.

The best time to build any relationship is before you need something, not waiting until the moment you need something. A friend of mine gets into the habit of sending five thoughtful emails each Sunday night to check in with people who he likes, admires, or thinks of. An email might look like a quick note of congratulations or a touch point to say hi:

“Hey, saw some great news about you — just wanted to say congratulations! I love watching what you’re up to through my various news feeds, and I wanted to send a note to say how much I hope you’re doing well.”

It’s a great way to remember to reach out to folks you want to be in touch with, and an actionable way of practicing gratitude.

2. Forgetting that there’s a person on the other side of your email.

Just as you wouldn’t walk into a friend’s house for dinner and bark out a command, often those little niceties in the intro and end of a message can go a long way. Social cues aren’t dated constructs; they’re valuable warm-up phrases in communication. Start by saying hi, comment on someone’s latest achievements, and wish the other person well.

“Hey stranger! It’s been a long time. If Facebook’s telling me the scoop, it looks like you had an eventful Spring…congrats on all of your successes!”

3. Using the first person too much

Many emails — and essays — are written exclusively in first person. Shift the focus to the recipient and consider what they want, need, or would like to hear. After writing an email, scan it quickly for how many times you use the word “I.” See if you can edit some of them out.

For example: “I’m teaching a new writer’s workshop this Spring, and I want help sharing the program. I think you’d be interested in it” (all “I” statements) can be turned into:

“Hey, Leslie. A while back we chatted about ways to improve your writing skills — and it seems you might like this writing workshop for creatives that just launched. Enjoy taking a look and let me know if this is what you were looking for.”

4. Sending the email at the wrong time

Just because you’ve written it now doesn’t mean it needs to be sent at this exact moment. Delaying the send is one of the most powerful and underutilized tools of emailing.

Evaluate whether or not the message is urgent and needs to be replied to immediately. If you’re cleaning up your inbox during your scheduled time, fire off the messages that are urgent and consider sending messages in the morning.

Scheduling emails to be sent in 24 or 48 hours gives you (and your clients) space to breathe between nonurgent projects, and it also sets up a rhythm of communication whereby your client no longer expects you to reply instantaneously. The more structure and parameter you give to the form of your messaging, the easier it is for the client to learn what to expect. You can either train someone to expect instantaneous answers at all times, or to learn the rhythm that’s best for you and your business.

Then, in the case of an emergency, if the client emails and you need to solve the problem straight away, you can send a quick message late in the evening or on a weekend. In this scenario, you become the hero to your client.

5. Sending to too many people

More recipients in the “To” field does not mean that you’ll necessarily get more answers. In the age of digital marketing, people who blast messages in broadcast form without understanding who is in the “to” line can erode their chances of a message being opened.

A perfect email is one that’s sent to exactly who it needs to go to, with a specified desired outcome.

The more specific you can be about who you ask, the better. Asking everyone in your network is bound to get you a bunch of silence in our over-connected world, or unsubscribes and un-follows across your various platforms. It’s better to ask three people who are very well equipped to answer your query than 15 people who aren’t interested at all.

The more specific you can get about who should be receiving the message, the better. One direct ask that results in a yes is better than asking 50 people who don’t respond (and spamming their inboxes).

6. Knowing nothing about the person receiving your email

Do your homework on the recipient. One great tool to glean fast information about who you’re talking to is Rapportive, a sidebar that lets you see the latest public posts (and a picture) of the person you’re communicating to.

7. Forgetting to send updates or interim messages

If you’re waiting for an important message from someone, the time spent waiting for a delivery can seem interminable. If there’s a long delay in sending an item that’s highly anticipated or expected, or you’ve experienced a few hiccups — send a one-liner email to update your receiver on the status of the project. You’ll know that you need to send a quick note when you start to get anxious about not delivering or they seem to be a bit flippant.

Here’s some sample copy for you to use:

“Hey, friend. Just wanted to send a quick update about the delivery of our proposal. We’re set to get you something by next Friday, but we might be a few days early. Talk to you next week! Let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.”

“Hey, friend. I know we touched base last month and I’ve been far too slow in getting back to you. I’m still working through the pile on my plate, but I should have something in the next 2–3 weeks. Didn’t want to keep you guessing! Talk soon.”

8. Making messages too long

Depending on the nature of the message, emails can vary from a few words to thousands of words. The longer the email, the less likely that someone will read the entire thing. Long emails generally mean that a larger strategy, framework, or document might be in order.

Some companies shift to using four-sentence emails and linking to longer pieces of work through Google Documents, Asana, or Basecamp (or other project management software). Here at One Month, we use Asana for project management and Slack for internal messaging, so email is never a nuisance in getting internal messages relayed.

9. Using email exclusively

Efficiency does not necessarily mean one single system. Often, redundancy in communication can be extremely helpful, as each tool (video, chat, email, Skype) adds a layer of human nuance back into the correspondence that’s happening.

Laura Roeder’s digital marketing team is distributed across multiple countries, and in order to stay in touch (and in concert with each other), they focus on “over-communication,” through the use of multiple tools at once.

Now, let’s talk about four ways to focus on writing better emails:

Tell sticky stories

Everything makes more sense with an illustration. Highlight and example, illustrate an ideal customer avatar, or tell a specific instance of a problem you had. Setting the context and the stage (that seems obvious to you, the writer), makes it easier for people to understand the pain point, the context, and the reason why you’re writing. When people can see your story — who you are, where you come from, why you’re doing what you’re doing — it’s easier for them to become a part of it.

Use the four-sentence, one-link rule

Keep your email to under four sentences (or five!). Focus on the pain point or problem you’re solving. Limit yourself to only one link. If you have to, make that link a document.

Be responsive and reflective

Observe how others communicate and adapt your style to meet them midway. Customize your communication by mirroring the style of a received message. Does someone send short messages with formal addresses? Respond in style.

Bookmark emails that you love with Evernote

Use the vast number of emails in front of you (and in your inbox) as clues to great messaging. Watch what emails you open first and are most excited about. Create a few folders in your mailbox system for great introductions, sample short messages, and thank-you notes that you like. Keep these for future use if you’re ever in a bind. In any art, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel — and paying attention to great writers (and what we personally enjoy) is a great way to get started.

Email is our number one form of communication, which means that everyone is a writer.The most powerful thing you can do in both your personal and business life is learn how to write well and tell great stories. Messages that persuade, content that converts, and language that inspires action are critical for getting what you want.

When you improve the way you write and learn how to design better messages, you will resonate with the reader, improve share-ability, and increase the bottom line.

Next week our Content Marketing class launches — are you on the list to find out when it opens?

What about you? What email mistakes do you see people making all the time that you wish they would fix? What’s the greatest email you’ve ever received?

How to Say No

There are a lot of great blog posts and books out there about how we should all say ‘No’ to more things in order to focus more on what really matters.

This seems pretty obvious to most people. But why is it so difficult to actually do?

I think it’s because most people don’t actually know how to say ‘No.’ They don’t have the words or the script, and so they fall back to saying ‘Yes’ because it’s socially polite or because they feel some responsibility. Saying ‘Yes’ is easier than saying ‘No.’

So here’s a handy cheat sheet on how to say ‘No.’ Bookmark this page and come back to it when you need it.

(Most of these I’ve collected over the years from places like Essentialism by Greg McKeown, and a few of them are my own.)

1. Ignore the Request or Lie

I don’t really like these options — I try to respond to every email I get, and I think a good personal virtue is to tell the truth in most situations, even when it’s uncomfortable.

Are you coming to my birthday party next Saturday?

But if you’re very busy or don’t have time to craft a thoughtful response to a request, you can ignore the request or lie about being busy:

Thanks for the invitation! I’d love to come but I can’t, I’ve already committed to something this weekend.

If you’re going to lie, be vague. Even though specific excuses are more believable, they’re also more likely to be called out, and you may find yourself having to remember things that you lied about.

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” — Mark Twain

2. Don’t Respond Right Away

The first important advice I’d give to someone who has trouble saying ‘No,’ is to not commit to things immediately.

Are you free to grab dinner next week?

When someone asks you to do something, especially if there’s some sort of time or social pressure involved, avoid saying ‘Yes’ (or implying it) right away.

I don’t know what my schedule looks like yet. Can I get back to you later this week?

This is more of a delaying tactic, but if you have a hard time finding the words to say ‘No’ while on the spot, delaying can be a really helpful way for you to remove yourself from the situation so that you can deliver a more thoughtful ‘No’ later.

Just make sure to actually get back to the person later— you don’t want to be known as the person who never follows up.

3. Defer to Some Time in the Future

If you’re really busy, but you’re being asked for something you wouldn’t mind doing at some point, you can suggest a later time in the near or distant future.

I’m really busy working on a product launch this week. But I’d love to get together once it’s finished. Do you mind reaching out again in a few weeks?

4. Propose a Low Commitment Alternative

Because I make my email very public, I get lots of emails from people asking if they can take me out to lunch or coffee to “pick my brain.”

I was wondering if my cofounder and I could take you to dinner/lunch, we’d love to tell you what we’re working on and pick your brain.

Because “brain picking” meetings can be exhausting and unstructured, I usually propose an alternative:

Sorry — I can’t meet up in-person — but I’m happy to help. So email me any question anytime. I’m not good with big general, “Here’s my entire situation — what do you think of it?” kind of questions, but pretty good with specific questions.

In this case, I’m offering to answer their questions asynchronously over email rather than in person or over the phone. I’m also requiring that they be specific with the questions they’d like me to answer (which is a reasonable request), because vague questions can be harder and take much longer to answer.

5. Propose a No Commitment Alternative

There are a few good ways to respond that don’t require you to commit to anything personally.

Sometimes I get emails from several people asking me the same question. For example, since I’m an alumni, people often reach out asking me to review their Y Combinator application:

If you have time for a quick chat, we’d love to hear about y’alls experience at YC, and if there are any pointers or advice in general you feel would be important for the interview or for a startup that is at the beginning of the YC process.

What I usually do here is politely decline and send a blog post or other resources that might be helpful:

I really appreciate you reaching out and asking for a review. That means you put a lot of trust and faith in me, and that means a lot. But I’m getting a lot of requests like this at the moment, and I have to say no unless I already have a strong pre-existing relationship with someone. It’s just too much to commit to helping out each person I’d like to help out.

I’m sure you’ve run across my two posts about your question before, but in case you haven’t, you might want to check out: how to get into Y Combinator and what I got out of Y Combinator.

I also keep a few pre-written ‘Reading Lists’ in Evernote that I send people directly over email (here’s a link to my Coding Reading List).

Sometimes it can make sense to suggest someone else who may be able to help — like if you’re being invited to give a talk somewhere but you can’t make it.

Don’t forget that just because you can’t do or aren’t interested in whatever you’re being asked to do, doesn’t mean the request wouldn’t be interesting or useful for someone else. (Just make sure you ask first before forwarding the request along.)

6. Respond with Your Own Request

Though I’ve never tried this myself, back in 2013 my friend Mathias used to get a lot of requests for Skype calls, so he created a Google form that he would ask people to fill out before he would agree to a meeting.

In order to help me decide when to do Skype calls or when to meet up in person, I’ve created a Google form with some basic questions that I will ask you to fill out: [link to Google form]

His form consisted of questions like:

  • What would you like to discuss / talk about?
  • What’s the purpose of the session?
  • What would be the ideal outcome of a potential session?
  • What do you believe that I can bring into the conversation?

I think this is especially clever since it allows you to still help out those who really need it, but also conveys the point that you’re going to be doing work for someone, so they should be thoughtful about it and not take your time for granted.

I reached out to Mathias recently and he mentioned that these days he directs people to his preferred channels —Whatsapp, iMessage, Twitter DM – instead.

There’s a similar tactic that you can use when an authority figure makes a request that you can’t really say ‘No’ to:

Sure, I’d be happy to do that. Which of these other things would you like me to deprioritize?

In this way, you’re basically saying ‘I can’t possibly do this and all the other things you’ve asked me to do’ and putting the onus on the other person to decide what you shouldn’t do.

7. Deliver a Thoughtful Rejection

When you just flat-out have to say ‘No’ to someone, you will want to come up with a tactful way to do it.

I once got an email from a friend of a friend asking me make an introduction to someone I knew.

It looks like you’re connected to X on LinkedIn, would you mind making an introduction and endorsing my startup?

Here’s one I sometimes use when someone I don’t know reaches out to ask me for an introduction to someone I know:

I really appreciate you reaching out and asking for an introduction and endorsement. That means you put a lot of trust and faith in me, and that means a lot. In this case, I don’t feel comfortable making an introduction for a few reasons:

– I don’t know you. You seem like a great person and we have a few friends in common, but I prefer to have met someone at least once before publicly endorsing them and the things they’re working on.
– I also don’t know anything about the quality of the product itself.
– Finally, I’m not very well-informed about the space your startup works in. That makes it especially hard for me to assess the value here, but also makes my opinions much less valuable.

The key elements to a thoughtful rejection are: Thank them for their request and show appreciation. Do it sincerely. Talk about how you feel rather than how things are. Someone is much less likely to be offended if you say “I don’t feel comfortable doing this,” rather than, “I won’t do this.” Keep the tone light and direct. Don’t play games or be vague. If you want, offer them some alternatives such as those in #4 and #5.

Bottom line, here are some general guidelines to follow that will make it easier to say “No”:

  • Separate the decision from the relationship. Sometimes you want to say yes because of the person, but make an effort to separate the two. If it’s not something you would normally say yes to, don’t do it just because someone special is asking.
  • Saying “No” gracefully doesn’t have to mean using the word “No.”
  • Focus on the trade-off. Saying ‘Yes’ to one thing often means you’re implicitly saying ‘No’ to other things you may want or need to do.
  • Remind yourself that everyone is selling something.
  • Come to terms with the fact that saying “No” will make you less popular in the short-run.
  • People will respect you more because they will see that you value your time. 
  • Remember that a clear “No” can be better and less painful for the other person than a vague or noncommittal “Yes.”

Can you think of any other ways to say no that I forgot to mention? Or do you have any other templates that other people could use? Post them in the comments. Then take a second to share this with one person who you think should say ‘No’ more often and make their life better!

What is Payment Processing?

Key Takeaways

Payment processing allows you to accept payments online. Here are three options to get you started:

  1. Easy: Services like Gumroad or Shopify are easiest. They come with basic themes and customizations.
  2. Medium: The Stripe checkout button. You’ll need basic development skills, but in exchange, you can customize the experience a lot more.
  3. Advanced: The Stripe API or Paypal API. You’ll need expert development skills however, you’ll have 100% control over customization.

Your Assignment

  • Decide which payment processing option is best for you. To get started, read about GumRoad, Shopify, and Stripe Checkout (20 minutes). If you have questions about getting started, contact us at teachers [at] onemonth.com.

Additional Resources to Keep You Learning

50 Ways to Get a Job

Podcast episode also available on iTunes and Spotify.

50 Ways to Get a Job is a career book with fifty proven exercises you can use to find meaningful work.

Last week I met with Dev Aujla to discuss his favorite takeaways from the book. One thing I have concluded after my chat with Dev: Resumes alone don’t work.

How do most people apply for a job? Most people make a resume, apply to job boards, and then wait around hoping that someone, somewhere, will call, all the while becoming the most depressing person in history to hang out with.

Dev Aujla spent over three years reading every career book since the 1970s. In that time he tested his methods on over 400,000 people! What he learned is that this old “resume & wait” game is over. In his book, he has proposed 50 tested ways to land your dream job.

In our interview Dev answers the questions:
* If resumes don’t work, what works in 2018?
* What are your favorite takeaways from the book?
* What’s the best cover letter?
* How do you land a technical job or a job in a startup?

I hope you enjoy my interview with Dev Aujla, author of 50 Ways to Get a Job.

What is Web Security?

Key Takeaways

Web security is protecting your website from hackers before it gets broken into.

If you’re a web security expert, you have the following skills:

  • You know how to code.
  • Can review your code for vulnerabilities.
  • You help fix the vulnerabilities you find.

How to Learn Web Security Today

  1. Read about OWASP. It stands for Open Web Application Security Project. They’re an international nonprofit that puts out lots of documentation, events, news, and web security projects. This is in an effort to improve software security across the world. Start here: https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Main_Page (15 minutes).
  2. Read the OWASP Top 10 Vulnerabilities.  Here’s how to succeed in 5 minutes: browse through the list, and read it aloud. Think of it as jumping in over your head! This will plant a seed for getting you on the right path. Start here: https://www.owasp.org/index.php/OWASP_Top_Ten_Cheat_Sheet (5 minutes).
  3. One Month Web Security — By the end of One Month Web Security, you will be able to review your own applications for security issues and ensure the code is properly hardened against malicious attacks. You will also be able to design new applications with security in mind. This will significantly lower the risk and cost associated with deploying new applications.

How Will You Make Money?


 

 

 

You should have an answer to the question “How will you make money?” early on. You may even have several answers. It needs to be plausible. People (like investors) may push back and argue with you about whether or not it’s a feasible business model. If you’re asking people for money, it’s a question you will have to deal with. So, you better be prepared for it.

That being said, you pointed out a few important things. For one, it’s okay to not be sure which will be the ideal business model or price. The process of getting to profitability is something you’ll have to face eventually if your startup continues to grow. You may be able to push it off for a while in favor of focusing on growing usage. That’s the second point, if your product is growing quickly, you’ll often find investors willing to fund your growth despite the lack of a proven business model.

There are only a few major business models though: Advertising, Subscription, E-commerce, Business Development, and Lead Gen are some of the major ones.

Let’s take Facebook as an example. In the early days, Facebook was growing so fast that they were able to get a ton of money before they had to worry about their business model. But it was pretty clear their business model was going to be advertising. It’s a fairly straightforward path to monetization for a social network. Though not all social networks monetize solely through advertising (LinkedIn charges users for premium accounts).

There are some others (like Medium) where the business model is still unclear, but I bet that the founders have a path (or several) towards monetization in their heads.

Yes, solving a problem should be the most important thing for you to focus on. But the reality is that if you’re trying build a big business, you have to have an idea how it’s going to be a lucrative problem to solve.

25 Essential Books on Storytelling, Copywriting, and Marketing to Read

25 storytelling books

How do you teach yourself about storytelling? Why is it that some copywriters seem to nail it, while others flounder?

These were the questions I asked myself when I started first started my CAD drafting job in architecture. Fresh out of graduate school, far too many dollars in debt, and stuck behind the drafting table, I listened as clients and ideas moved in and out of the office.

I started to notice the same patterns happening over and over again. Saw brilliant designers and creative urban planners come up with strategies for re-designing cities. Saw tools to change the ways buildings breathed and moved, how people interacted. I saw those ideas crushed, time and time again, under a lack of understanding.

The same things kept happening: during the presentation, ideas weren’t communicated in a way that resonated.

The same things kept happening. During the presentation with the client, the city, or the public agency, the ideas weren’t communicated in a way that resonated — and persuaded. Some people would get caught up in tiny details; others would miss the big picture. Sometimes a great idea got buried under the weight of myopic details.

In addition, your audience has different styles of decision-making. Some leaders make decisions immediately, swept up in ideas and willing to go along. Other leaders need to ruminate and process. Some folks want to believe that they’ve been the ones to come up with the idea.

The art of persuasion and conversation is its own art, its own field.

Knowing how to explain your idea in a way that is compelling, clear, and persuades others to adopt it (and give you money for it!) is no easy task. Tired designers kept arriving at brilliant solutions. They also faced the challenge of explaining themselves. Communication is the art of getting your ideas heard, shared, understood, and adopted. Designing and communicating are separate, but highly related fields.

I began to research communication, persuasion, and storytelling.

Over the past eight years, I’ve read more than 100 books on storytelling, persuasion, copywriting, content marketing, and designing presentations. From Edward Tufte’s books on information design to Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey, to the neuroscience behind storytelling. This year, I’ve compiled the top 26 books that I think every leader, communicator, thought leader and business owner should read.

This year, if you want to get better at communicating your visions, positioning yourself as a thought leader, and sharing your work in the world, you’ll need to elevate your storytelling, copywriting, and persuasion skills.

“If I ask you to think about something, you can decide not to. But if I make you feel something? Now I have your attention.” — Lisa Cron

If you want to up your game and grow your business, elevate your platform, or become a better storyteller — read these books. 

BOOKS ON PERSUASION + COMMUNICATION: 

1: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini. Influence is a science — it’s not magic; and Cialdini outlines six principles for how people relate to each other, socially, and why tools like reciprocity, scarcity, and liking affect how we interact with each other. It’s also delightfully fun to read.

2: The Elements of Persuasion: Use Storytelling to Pitch Better, Sell Faster, and Win More Business. Stories might seem simple, but understanding how to do them effectively is a skill to master. Maxwell and Dickman show examples of storytelling across every industry, outlining five basic components — passion, a hero, an antagonist, a moment of awareness, and transformation — that form the critical elements of a persuasive story, pitch, or speech.

3: HBR On Communication, by Harvard Business Review.  I haven’t picked up an HBR series book I haven’t liked — dense, packed with the latest research, yet distilled into essential tips, Harvard Business Review’s “10 Must Reads” lives up to its name. With essays on persuasion, influence, and understanding conversational style, I learned more about understanding gender dynamics and understanding leadership styles in 40 pages than I have browsing hundreds of internet click-bait links.

4: Trust Agents, by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. Destined to be a classic. How do people become online influencers? They do more than provide content: they establish valuable relationships, reputations, and utilize media to build trust relationships as leaders and agents in an increasingly interconnected, complex world.

5: How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” ― Dale Carnegie.

“Often we don’t realize that our attitude toward something has been influenced by the number of times we have been exposed to it in the past.” ― Robert B. Cialdini

BOOKS ON WRITING:

As a writer, my favorite books on writing lean towards the introspective, the habit-building, and the people who devote time to this craft. Here are my favorites:

6: The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. Want to tap into your inner voice? Julia Cameron leads a 12-week program that takes you through all the feelings you have while becoming a maker, a creative, an artist. Yes, you’ll get frustrated. You’ll get mad and stuff from your childhood will surface up. Cameron is here to guide you — and to remind you to play, because play is the outlet and source of creativity. Her “Artist Dates” remind me that exploring the world and documenting my thoughts is exactly what I should be taking time to do.

7: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield. What holds us back? Ourselves, of course. This pithy and succinct book details the enemy that we all deal with — inner resistance. Resistance shows up in every form, from convincing to conniving to flattering to maddening. How do you overcome Resistance? Simple: show up and work, bit by bit, day by day. Great on a shelf for a little reminder every few days.

“If you find yourself asking yourself “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?”, chances are you are.” ― Steven Pressfield

8: Zen in the Art of Writing, by Ray Bradbury. Here are three quotes from this book by legendary Ray Bradbury: “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” ― “Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together.” — “Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” — Ray Bradbury

9: Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. A book on writing and life, and all the zany-crazy-personality quirks in between. Fluttering between self-deprecation and frank honesty, Lamott tells the story of the difficulty of writing and getting out of our own way. Humorous at times and painful at others, I have owned this book for more than 10 years and refer to it readily whenever I experience my own writers’ block.

10: Still Writing, by Dani Shapiro. Practical, wise, clever, and funny, Shapiro takes her 20-odd years as a writer and a teacher and tells the story of what it’s like to write. Each chapter is a new essay, a piece of advice, a glimmer into what she’s done. Wise and brilliant.

11: On Writing, by Stephen King. Writers writing about writing is so wonderful — you see their tools, ideas, and childhood and work, all mixed together in a story well told. Stephen King doesn’t disappoint.

12: Show Your Work, by Austin Kleon. This book is about making things, just making them — and about sharing them. It’s time that you promoted yourself in a way that’s authentic and normal to you, and that’s related more to you sharing the work that you’re making (however discomfortable) than it does being a master promoter.

“But now I realize that the only way to find your voice is to use it. It’s hardwired, built into you. Talk about the things you love. Your voice will follow.” — Austin Kleon

STORYTELLING:

13: Resonate, by Nancy Duarte. This book is a foundation for designing visual presentations that have emotional clarity and pull. She diagrams (beautifully!) the Hero’s Journey and the structure of moving speeches, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Bill Clinton. I’ve read and re-read this book dozens of times and keep a copy at my desk for close reference.

14: Winning the Story Wars, by Jonah Sachs. A lot of books on storytelling are stuffy and academic; this is not. Sachs shows how mass media and brands are failing to tell great stories, and why it’s now a race for businesses to reconnect with the vital ingredients of storytelling — or risk being left in the dust. This book is a clear look at how marketing, business, and storytelling are all tied together.

15: Joseph Campbell: The Hero’s Journey. A seminal work on storytelling, Campbell created the Hero’s Journey, which dissects the structure of great mythologies across religions, contexts, and time. Each Hero has a call to action and proceeds around the mythological clock (or circle) through a number of steps on an adventure from the known world to the unknown world.

16: Wired for Story, by Lisa Cron. “The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence”—Lisa Cron maps out how storytelling works and why we’re wired to listen closely, from hook to structure to finale. Stories ignite our brains in predictable patterns, and knowing the science behind why storytelling works will change your writing faster than any other writing advice might.

17: Improving Your Storytelling, by Doug Lipman. This book looks at the oral history of storytelling and places stories in the context within which they were born. I learned exercises of imagination, detail, and adding environmental cues from this book — and even dabbled in understanding the stand-up, performative aspects of storytelling (whereas most of the other books in this list are focused on narrative and written stories).

18: The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, by Jonathan Gottschall.  Humans spend as much as four hours a day in lands of make-believe (if not more). We make up fantasies, read novels, enjoy plays, and live in dream-lands most of the time. Gottschall combines neuroscience, psychology, and storytelling to explain what it means to be a human animal. At it’s core it is what stories have to do with instincts, decision making, survival, and behavior change.

19: A Million Miles in A Thousand Years, by Donald Miller. How do you live a successful story? How does a life become more than a set of random experiences, many of which you don’t seem to have any control over? Donald Miller sets out to write a book about stories, and realizes that his life isn’t very interesting — and doesn’t follow the narrative structure of a story. In this tale, he decides to make his life worth telling, and reveals how story structure works, one lesson at a time.

“And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”
― Donald Miller

MARKETING + UNDERSTANDING MEDIA:

20: Tested Advertising Methods, by John Caples. A primer on all things copywriting and advertising. Originally published in 1978, this book is still a standout example of how to write great copy, headlines, and advertisements. He breaks down the components of advertisements and why some ads sell three times as much as other ads. This is one of the most useful books on advertising. If you’re a copywriter, content marketer, or sales person — you’re in the business of writing headlines every day.

21: Breakthrough Advertising, by Eugene M. Schwartz.Did you know that there’s an urban legend about an elusive book known for it’s legendary advertising copy? Apparently it’s considered a special gift bestowed upon newbie marketers and copywriters. It’s in such demand that this book retails for $300 or more with used copies. Sometimes it can even be found for over $900 on Amazon! Called one of the best books in advertising and recommended by most of the top internet marketers out there today. It digs into the art and mastery of great copywriting. It’s not formulaic — it’s an evolving art, and one that you have to pay attention to and constantly adapt in order to do well.

22: Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, by Ryan Holiday. Blogs, tweets, and social media distort the news like never before. A single malicious rumor can cost a company millions. Products, celebrities, attention? It’s all a game. Ryan Holiday, Marketing Director for American Apparel, takes you behind the spin cycle of creating news. He shows how he consistently and deliberately changed the news cycle and created stories in his favor. Eye-opening and sometimes disgusting, it’s best to know what you’re getting into in today’s media landscape.

23: New Rules for A New Economy: Kevin Kelly. Kevin Kelly, editor of Wired, wrote this book in 1999 — and I still pick it up and re-read it. Offering wisdom about the changing connected world, Kelly suggests that communication is what drives change. Today, connectivity is everything, and “success flows primarily from understanding networks, and networks have their own rules.” He details ten principles of the connected economy and how they play out in business, economics, and life.

24: Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind, by Al Ries and Jack Trout. Trout is considered the father of advertising and a guru of branding, marketing and product management. He brings together elements of psychology and user experience to show how to describe things to the people that matter to your business–your customers. It’s not how you understand what you do; it’s how well you explain it to others, in a way that stands out.

25: Oglivy on Advertising. One of the premier advertising and sales books of all times. Oglivy is a genius. “Ogilvy’s writing is captivating. His work, legendary. His ideas, timeless.” I’ve only begun to dig into the genius in this book, and fully expect to have it dog-eared, flagged, marked, highlighted, and re-read multiple times over.

“Where people aren’t having any fun, they seldom produce good work.” ― David Ogilvy

BONUS — FAVORITE FICTION + NARRATIVE NON-FICTION BOOKS:

I think all great writers need to be great readers. If you’re feeling stuck on technical books, then toss the technical books to the side and pick up a great fiction book. The point of a story is to become absorbed in it. We can pick up great habits by reading good works. (Although a few of the books above, like A Million Miles, Bird by Bird, Still Writing, and On Writing read like narratives).

Some of my recent favorites in fiction and narrative non-fiction are:

  • Americanah
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers
  • Bend, Not Break
  • Brave New World
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling
  • Ender’s Game
  • The Fault in Our Stars
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • The Fear Project
  • The Glass Castle
  • The Kite Runner
  • Life of Pi
  • The Longest Way Home
  • The Signature of All Things
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
  • The Year Without Pants

What is Web Development?

Key Takeaways

The four most important roles for building a website are:

  1. User Experience (UX)
  2. Information Architecture (IA)
  3. Visual Design
  4. Development

To clarify this… they’re not “people,” they are roles.

If you’re at a small startup, you may have to be all four of these roles. At a larger company, each of these roles might be covered by a group of people.

Question:

Are you missing one of these four roles on your project? If so, leave a comment down below with a description of your team and what you’re working on. Ask any questions you might have, and I’ll try to get back to you ASAP!

Keep Learning!

Hot Wallet vs. Cold Storage

bitcoin trezor wallet

 

Can you explain the difference between a Hot Wallet and Cold Storage?

Hot wallet refers to any cryptocurrency wallet that is connected to the internet. Generally hot wallets are easier to setup, access, and accept more tokens. But, hot wallets are also more susceptible to hackers, possible regulation, and other technical vulnerabilities. 

Cold storage refers to any cryptocurrency wallet that IS NOT connected to the internet. Generally cold storage is more secure, but they don’t accept as many cryptocurrencies as do many of the hot wallets. Cold storage devices (aka. Trezor, Ledger) also cost close to $80 USD, where as hot wallets are free. 

Should I buy a bitcoin wallet? 

If you’re going to own more than $100 USD worth of Bitcoin, Ethereum or any cryptocurrencies, you want to buy a cold storage wallet immediately! I use the number $100 USD because that’s how much a cold storage device costs. 

Maybe you’ve heard people say “Bitcoin is so empowering because you can ‘Be your own bank'”? It’s true. You are your own bank. Not Bank of America.  So with that responsibility comes some pros and cons. At the end of the day crypto has fewer middleman fees, and less sloppy bank regulation etc etc, but it is your responsibility to ensure your crypto investments are stored in a safe are yours and yours alone. 

Generally as a rule of thumb you should only leave as much money on your hot wallet as you would with a leather wallet that you’d keep in your pocket. Think of it this way, if you were held at gunpoint while holding a leather wallet, then you’d only lose that money in your pocket, and not your entire bank account. If you keep all your money in Coinbase it’s as if you are walking around town with all your money in your pocket. 

In short, here’s an analogy to help you out: a hot wallet can be though of as a pocket wallet that you walk around town with, cold storage is a bank vault. 

Recap: Hot Wallet Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Free
  • Quick access to your cryptocurrency (many hot wallets are accessible via your cell phone) 
  • Easy to use, and user-friendly

Cons:

  • Hot wallets by definition are connected to the Internet which means that your cryptocurrency is less secure (e.g. hackers, possible regulation, and other technical vulnerabilities) 

Best hot wallets:

Cold Storage: Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • The most secure option
  • As it’s completely offline this provides a greater level of safety.

Cons:

  • Expensive to buy  ($80 USD+)
  • Not ideal for quick or regular transactions (because I leave one of mine at home, and another in a safe deposit box. I personally don’t know anyone that carries around a Trezor for payments — if you’re that person write it in the comments, I’m sure you will)

Best cold storage bitcoin wallets:

  1. Trezor – Stores BTC, BCH, BTG, ETH, ZCash, Dash (more coming soon)
  2. Ledger Wallet  – Stores BTC, BCH, BTG, ETH, ZCash, Ripple, Dash, ARK, Stellar, (hopefully Monero coming soon) and more

trezor bitcoin wallet

 

Best cold wallet for Bitcoin, etc?

Here at One Month we all use Trezor. Trezor is a hardware wallet on which you can store bitcoin, ether, Dash, Zcash, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold and any ERC-20 token. It allows for 2-Factor Authentication, and if you lose your Trezor – as long as you remember your secret password you can quickly regain access to all your keys, money, history, accounts and emails. If you own or are thinking of owning cryptocurrency buy a Trezor.