Good morning, sunbeam!
My neighbor Melissa texted me this week with a call for help. She'd trapped a turtle in a recycle bin—she'd rescued it as it was crossing the street—and was now trying to figure out what to do with it.
I realize even as I write that sentence that it's the most 2019/first-world sentence ever... isn't it?
Anyway, the gal was feisty. (The turtle, not Melissa.)
And Melissa was worried that the turtle was going to scale the walls of the bin and scurry right back to the middle of the road where some unsuspecting motorist would smash her to smithereens.
I was about to go into a MarketingProfs meeting, but in a heartbeat I decided that this situation was literally life or death. I ran right over.
In my head I'd pictured a small painted turtle, maybe the size of a Hot Pocket, loitering in the bottom of the blue bin.
But when I peeked into the bin on Melissa's front lawn, I instead saw a massive turtle. As big around as a pizza. But dense and overstuffed, like a pizza-sized club sandwich.
The turtle sported a mossy shell that looked as old as time, a hooked nose, and tiny Chiclets teeth. She was a snapper, and those Chiclets could snap your toe off if she was angry enough.
And she was: I gazed at her ancient face, and into those black eyes that had probably witnessed the end of the Jurassic period. She aggressively stared back from the bottom of the recycle bin as if to say, "Eff you and your liberal do-gooder ways."
She was terrifying. She was glorious. A chill ran through me, standing just a foot away from her.
I ran back to my garage and grabbed whatever supplies came to mind... gloves. Plastic screen. Duct tape. The plan was to secure the screen to the top of the bin to contain her so we could give her a lift to the pond down the street.
But by the time I got back, Melissa had already lifted the turtle and her bin into the trunk of the car. She'd calmed down. (The turtle, not Melissa.)
So we balanced the screen on top of the bin and set off: Melissa driving, me riding shotgun.
"This looks like a scene from Goodfellas," Melissa said. "You with your gloves and duct tape and a body in the back."
What does my turtle rescue mission have to do with you?
Nothing. And everything.
This week on the MarketingProfs podcast, Carlos Hidalgo talked with host Kerry Gorgone about discovering meaning in our daily lives. The discussion grew out of his new book, The UnAmerican Dream.
Fulfillment in life and work is "not about balance, it's about boundaries," Carlos said. "One of the big lessons is: we should take pride in our work and we should work hard, but we shouldn't make it the center of all things."
Other things need to be in the center sometimes, too: Family. Community. Turtles.
Ha. Just kidding about that last one. (Sort of.)
I don't believe in work/life balance, I believe in work/life boundaries...[being] as protective about [our] relationships and [personal] time as we are anything else.
The meeting I ditched when Melissa called was with Kerry, in fact.
I explained later that I had to reschedule our call to rescue a turtle. "Things only you would say," Kerry said.
* * *
The entire turtle rescue situation is almost over-dramatic and overwritten, isn't it?
Kerry—fresh off her work-life boundary convo with Carlos. The recycle bin—literally the vessel of renewal. The turtle—the ancient symbol of slow as the fastest way to get to where you want to be.
But that's how it happened. So who are we to argue with the obviousness of the lessons here?
- Enjoy your work. But not at any cost.
- Make room for community.
- And always, and in many ways, pay attention to turtles.
* * *
Here are 6 things worth knowing this week.
Reset on Success
After 25 years in B2B marketing, my friend Carlos Hidalgo reset how he viewed "success." From Carlos:
As I obtained more "success," I became less fulfilled and more narcissistic in the process.
My life spiraled out of control. I put so much into the business that I didn't have time... no, I chose to not give time to the things that bring true joy and whole-heartness.
Carlos's new book on the topic, The UnAmerican Dream, is out this week. It's a refreshingly real story that can help all of us shed the hustle mentality and realign ourselves with what really matters.
Everybody Writes Tip of the Week: Should You Only Have Sex with Your Spouse?
Pay attention to where words appear in relation to others around them. Because weird word order can wreak havoc in a sentence. And ruin your life.
I see this problem ALL. THE. TIME. with the world's trickiest word: Only.
Let's look at a recent tragic paragraph from a newsletter that landed in my inbox, and let's live-edit it together...
The tragic paragraph:
"A new study found people who have only had sex with their spouse tend to be happier in their marriages. The study suggests numerous reasons.... But [maybe] people who have only had sex with their spouse are happier simply because they can't miss what the never had."
Let's live-edit paragraph (bold added by me):
"A new study found people who have had sex only with their spouse tend to be happier in their marriages. The study suggests numerous reasons.... But [maybe] people who have had sex only with their spouse are happier simply because they can't miss what the never had."
Why: The use of "only" as a modifier in the first example is (tragically) off.
"Only" should be in front of "with their spouse."
Otherwise, it reads like the only thing they did together was have sex... when they probably watched Netflix occasionally, too. 😉
Email marketing consultant (and Total Annarchy reader) Jordie Van gives you "How to Make Your Employee Newsletter a Winner."
Club's Not to Like? 📚
How do you build community around your brand when you serve a geographically diverse audience? How about a book club?
Book clubs aren't just for media companies, of course. They're a good way to get your audience on the same page (literally).
Asking for a Friend
Do you like swag? Do you have a marketing or career question?
You can win swag if I pick your question to answer in my "Asking for a Friend" advice column in LinkedIn's quarterly print magazine. Submit your question here
✅ ...eliminate fears with empathetic UX copy
. Why don't your visitors sign up for your services? Maybe you're not addressing their fears. I love this piece on eliminating "fear-induced friction" in your UX writing. Pro tip:
These 5 tips apply more broadly to other kinds of writing, too. [via
✅ ...write better Instagram captions
. "Paint a picture. Describe touch, taste, sound, sight, emotion, feel. Get specific. Don't just say 'Tex-Mex.' Say 'salty corn chips dunked in guacamole washed down with tart margaritas.'" [via Shopify]
Two tools I used this week.
Shouts from around the internet.
Thanks for reading this far. Thanks for your kindness and generosity. See you on June 30!