Are We As A Nation Afraid To Blog: American’s Writing Skills At Issue?

Why are American businesses and business people afraid to blog? What is the biggest “perceived” obstacle to entry? Training is a burgeoning area that corporations are addressing by spending record amounts of time, capital, and monies.

The missing factor is a recognized effort on the part of American businesses and business people to improve their writing and grammar skills.

According to a 1994 National Institiute for Literacy study “The Educational Quality of the Workforce National Employer Survey” stated:

“only 25.1%” of training was focused on “literacy/numeracy” training aka English and Math skills

The Big Picture

In 2004 the National Commission on Writing produced a fantastic report “Writing: A Ticket to Work or a Ticket Out, A Survey of Business Leaders” surveying 120 human resource directors who are participants of Business Roundtable. The following are some interesting findings:

1. People who cannot write and communicate clearly will not be hired, and if already working, are unlikely to last long enough to be considered for promotion

Analysis: Writing skills are both a marker of high wage, high skill professional work

2. Two-thirds of salaried employees in large American companies have some writing responsibility

Analysis: Realtors and entrepreneurs often fail to recognize the role that writing plays in their success or failures

3. 80% or more of services, finance, insurance, and real estate companies evaluate writing skills during the hiring process

4. 40% of firms surveyed offer or require writing skills training for employees with deficiencies

5. The Commission estimates that “remedying deficiencies in writing costs American corporations as much as $3.1 billion annually

The perceived challenges to entry into blogging may be more than just perception. The problems with literacy and writing skills may actually be the core root of why this incredible marketing tool remains grossly under utilized, systematically ignored, and ultimately unappreciated by those who would benefit the most.

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“Search engines like Google get you lost in all the links, but not Yahoo search”: How Not To Take On Your Market’s ‘Goliath’

Yahoo’s new radio campaign is both ridiculous and an obvious attempt at propping up what can and is being perceived as a sinking ship takeover target. David beat Goliath because he had a slingshot and guts. But Yahoo’s attempt at disparaging Google’s search model, a far superior and accurate model, is like Charles Manson winning his parole–it just doesn’t make sense. . . unless

Yahoo’s tactic may be the time tested “this bad ad” where an advertisement is deliberately created to sound stupid, bad, or completely out of touch. This is done solely as a tactic to help consumers remember the ad so they virally (talk) spread the word.

The following is from seoroundtable.com’s solid article “Will Yahoo’s Radio Commercials Help Take Market Share From Google?”

Yahoo’s radio campaign tagline:

“Search engines like Google get you lost in all the links, but not Yahoo search. . . You won’t find that on your Google page!”

Reactions about Yahoo from the Blogosphere via Webmasterworld.com’s forum:

“Dead medium for a dead search engine. Pretty appropriate.”

“I’ve seen Google Adsense ads for Yahoo on my website. Sad. . . they must be really desperate for traffic.”

“Oh dear. . . looks like their marketing department or (ad) agency has gone a bit crazy.

“If Yahoo concentrated on their search engine a bit more, they might have something to shout about.”

Why Google is Superior and Yahoo Does Not Get It

1. Consumer Choices: Google’s vast listing of links provides answers for consumers whether the answers come from a blog, website, or paid advertisement does not matter. We have the choice to click or to not click

2. Blogger Links: We bloggers are looking for links, authority which bolsters our Google “juice” moving us up the rankings on each page. Exposure leads to readership and readership leads to business, monetary gain, and recognition

3. Business Listings: Google is simply the future’s answer to the Yellow Pages. Businesses that do not have Google placement and search-ability are destined to remain hard to find, lose credibility with consumers, and lose revenue

The old trick of naming your business AAA or beginning your listing with the letter A so as to place at the top of the Yellow Pages listings is being played out everyday on Google. In today’s version of that tactic, businesses that blog have the ability to move up the rankings, lockout their competitors, answer their critics, defend their reputation, and further their company message.

As one blogger proclaimed “Yahoo should have waited until the Microsoft takeover and  new search capabilities were ready for market. . . why trumpet an old second place model?”

How To Engage A Home Buyer Task #1: Perception Is Your Best Weapon and Your Worst Enemy:

US News & World Report, a very well respected media source, staff writer Marty Nemko authored “Overrated Career: Real Estate Agent.” The report has such perception crushing lines like:

“Because it’s an easy field to get into, there’s a real estate agent on every corner.” This idea challenges the reality of the “professional Realtor” a person dedicated to the industry with valuable experience and even better connections to the market–exactly what every consumer wants when they are making the biggest transaction of their lives.

Perception: the majority of Realtors are know nothing bored housewives or worse yet “trophy” wives, retirees with nothing to do, or part time entrepreneurs who figure they can wing it and make a few bucks.

“And demand for agents is declining, since the Internet makes it possible to buy and sell property with little or no help from a professional.” This is simply false and stupid information. Unless you are an attorney or former agent, you best not try to go it alone and buy or sell property, without consultation, online to save money.

If you are a Realtor and reading this you SHOULD be outraged! In fact you should be ready to challenge these perceptions. But sadly the majority of Realtors and their brokers do not have a blog that would help them defend their reputation, defend the perception of their industry ie job description, or provide rebuttal commentary thwarting the continued misconceptions that are being falsely ingrained in the public consciousness one media article at a time.

Task #1 Perception Is Your Best Weapon and Your Worst Enemy

Timing and Opportunity: Today’s housing market crisis is the greatest single opportunity for outstanding professional Realtors to ONCE AND FOR ALL distinguish themselves while locking out their competition–forever. By staying in business, selling homes, representing clients, and continuing to practice at the highest ethical levels you will set in stone your reputation and create the perception that is reality.

Substance Factor: Create a completely transparent profile of your business practices as a Realtor, your educational background, your complete career track record of sales, your involvement within the community(s) you sell or represent, and list any awards or honors you have received for your work both professionally and volunteer. You do volunteer within your community right?

Tone: Advertising in newspapers, radio spots, or even television is perceived as “a blatant sales pitch” something consumers will scrutinize rather than evaluate. The “tone” Realtors use is akin to a used car salesman’s pitch and so outdated it can be painful to watch. Stop selling yourself as the most reputable, most experienced, most intelligent, hardest working, or best of everything! Nobody believes these self ingratiating claims because they are coming from you the Realtor–they have no credibility with someone who has never met you.

Your mantra should involve GIVING AWAY VALUE WITHOUT ASKING FOR ANYTHING IN RETURN.

Action Plan Perception to Reality

1. Start blogging today and write about your community, schools, small businesses, market, weather, and everything that makes up the areas you serve.

2. Speak in front of every civic group, rotary, grassroots organization, Kiwanis Club, association, and consumer lead groups you can convince to have you present. GIVE them valuable information with NO sales pitches–just information each group can use.

“State of Your Market” free weekly Town Hall meetings where you present and then allow the community to give feedback live.

3. Newsletter circulation begins with exposure so write about your State of the Market address, recent helpful homeowner tip, speaking engagements and groups you addressed, or a new development within the industry. Keep people informed and they will consider you an expert and perceive you as a professional Realtor.

“Hiding in Plain Sight” Spitzer and Okun: Did They Want To Get Caught?

Reuters.com published this article on March 25, 2008: “US News”

Reuters.com published this article on March 25, 2008: “Business and Finance” 

FoxBusiness.com published this article on March 25, 2008

Did Eliot Spitzer and Ed Okun want to get caught by the authorities? Spitzer held his career killing federal endictment insighting activities in Washington D.C.. The worst place to keep a political secret on the planet is Washington D.C..

In the same light, Ed Okun’s undoing may have come primarily due to a ill advised moment of weakness that foreshadowed the man’s apparent disregard for taking chances regardless of circumstances. Of the 3 charges Okun faces, the money laundering charge may be the most difficult to fathom–and the most embarrassing.

According to a federal indictment, Okun instructed employees to “smuggle” $15,000 in cash via courier, to his yacht in the Bahamas, in order to avoid federal currency reporting requirements. Costar.com’s Mark Heschmeyer provided a quote from the indictment that illustrates just how blatant and careless Okun had become:

“[C]ould you fed ex $15,000 cash (large bills and pad the package with paper on both sides so it looks like a thick document, you may want to put it in several envelopes so they can’t tell what it is) to me here in nassau people don’t like credit cards here. I would suggest cashing two checks one for 5,200 and one for 9,800 so you stay under the 10,000 cash reporting with the irs or better yet take someone else with you, you cash one and they cash the other. I need it sent priority next day to: Atlantis Marina, Paradise Island, Nassau Bahamas, C/O motor Yacht Simone slip #4041, Telephone number 954-328-1481. Thanks, Ed.”

Just for the record, the excerpt within the above comment, “. . . I would suggest cashing two checks one for 5,200 and one for 9,800 so you stay under the 10,000 cash reporting with the irs or better yet take someone else with you, you cash one and they cash the other. . . “ brings up some interesting points:

1. IRS: Why would anyone ever mention the IRS by name in any type of communication when they are under federal investigation?

2. $10,000 IRS Reporting Limit: To my knowledge, the reason why the IRS instituted a federal law requiring any transactions $10,000 and above dates back to the Cocaine Cowboy days of drug smuggling and dealing in Miami. This was one of the government’s weapons against money laundering.

3. Employees or Partners: If Okun had “his” people committing unlawful acts is it possible that someone else may have been equally responsible for the $160,000,000 embezzlement? Or are we looking at a situation where there were just a large number of “associates” very willing to help Okun spend or steal from Okun himself? Nobody knows but questions remain.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Aristotle, Perry Mason: What Lies Beneath The Surface of The 1031 Tax Group Case?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the brilliant Scottish born Physician and creator of Sherlock Holmes utilized “Deductive Reasoning” to solve the unsolvable. Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher, utilized logic to become one of the most important founding figures in Western Philosophy. Perry Mason, a fictional television attorney, was a brilliant tactician with foresight and instinct.

What can we learn from these three figures, fictional and real, when applied to the Ed Okun 1031 Tax Group case?

Holmes

Sherlock would utilize Deductive Reasoning by taking the information in the case and then work from the general to the specific aka “Top-Down” approach.

Sherlock would begin with a theory about Ed Okun and his role in the 1031 Tax Group case. He would then deduce the information down into a “hypothesis” which he could test. Sherlock would then task Watson with remembering “observations” about Mr. Okun that would further address the hypothesis.

At this point “we are able to test the data a confirmation (or not) of our original theory.”

Analysis: Holmes would deduce that it is quite possible that hidden accomplices or a unknown “mastermind” may be behind the 1031 Tax Group case. With Watson’s constant nodding approval, Holmes could easily posit that “there is more than meets the eye here ole boy.”

Aristotle

Known as one of the father’s of Western Philosophy and founder of deductive reasoning, Aristotle’s greatest asset is his grounded belief in logic.

Aristotle would collect the facts, like Sergeant Friday, and logically eliminate what could not be proven. Working methodically, Aristotle would comb the financial records for connections that might shed light on Holmes deductive findings–unknown forces behind Mr. Okun.

Mason

With his hammer, detective Paul Drake, and his feather, the beautiful Della, Perry Mason would use his instinct to decipher the Okun mess. Is there a patsy, beside the investors, amongst the violators? Is Okun the front man or fall guy?

If nobody else exists in the Okun mess and he is the sole violator then why are there not more monies left over? Did this one man actually spend every last dime, pinch every last nickel from over blown refinanced properties, and did it all land in his lap as a result?

Your guess is as good as mine. Suffice it to say that there are many unanswered questions that may never come out let alone be answered. Like the old radio show only “The Shadow” knows.

“The Mystery Caller”: Say It Loud And Clear My Friend

Woodward and Bernstein haddeepthroat“, Hoover had McCarthy, and now I have “The Mystery Caller.” With the swift strike of a Bruce Lee Backfist and a screaming bullet train, my mystery tipster, name unknown, came calling again today–twice! I am here. I know your voice consequently imposters will be eliminated quickly. If you have the desire leave me a contact and I will follow up.

What remains to be seen is the number of skeptics this “source” could and should quiet. There are a number of amateur sleuths out there who have called this guy out, acted as if they are in the “know”, and in general shoveled a healthy pile of “doubt” on the mystery caller’s credability.

Yet like any critic or naysayer, these “sleuths” never come up with the goods, the information, or the unknown differentiating factor that would legitimize their rants and raves. Instead it’s the usual “I knew that months ago”, “That’s nothing new”, or my favorite line “Hey do you think that. . . ”

Hey if I really knew something that others did not know, I would take it to my friends in the mass media in the hopes that something good would come of the information–say like restitution .

But the fact of the matter is that I do not have an insider’s view to this point. . . BUT THERE IS ALWAYS TOMORROW and that is what any writer lives for in this day and age–the next big piece of information.

Be well my “Mystery Caller” friend and if you so desire let us all in on the whole sordid mess.

Okun Attorney To Miami Herald: “Ed Is Confident He Will Be Proven Innocent In A Court of Law”

 Reuters.com published this article March 20, 2008

“Miami businessman Okun arrested in fraud scheme” is the Miami Herald’s Dan Christensen’s wonderful, succinct description of the events of the Ed Okun saga as it unfolds. Although most of the article is a recapitulation of information, some of the following passages paint a picture of recent events.

According to Okun attorney Rosen: ”He (Okun) was arrested early this morning by federal agents who came to his house while he was having breakfast with his wife and two-year-old child.”

Analysis: Mr. Rosen’s description of Mr. Okun’s arrest in front of Mr. Okun’s child is an obvious attempt to seek sympathy in the court of public opinion.

What about the unknown number of children who are sitting with their parents around a breakfast table trying to figure out what to do to make ends meet in the everyday real world?

What we know:

1. “Okun is being held without bond at Miami’s Federal Detention Center, according to his Coral Gables lawyer Michael Rosen.”

2. “Okun told The Miami Herald in December that his actions have been misunderstood.”

3. “More than a dozen alleged victims live in Florida, and include retirees, businessmen and even a former Broward Sheriff’s detention deputy.

4. The Miami Herald claims that Rosen will attempt to seek bail for Mr. Okun in Virginia

Analysis: Having lived in Virginia for 7 years, being told by natives that it is the northern part of the south, and witnessing the staunch very real conservatism the state supported–good luck

5. The “Simone” Factor: “The indictment says Okun had an employee overnight $15,000 in cash to him while he was aboard ”The Simone” while staying at the Atlantis Marina on Paradise Island in Nassau in January 2007.