Copywriters know: a story can be the “spoonful of sugar” you need to t

Let’s face it. Sometimes you need to send a message your audience doesn’t want to hear.

For instance, during the pandemic, government agencies around the world wanted to send a message, “Wear a mask.” It was a tough message. Experts reported that shaming didn’t work.

Fear appeals can be problematic. They seem to work, especially when they also present an accessible, one-time solution.


Recognize when you’re really an introvert and find the best career for your personality style.

Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash

Several years ago, an article from The Atlantic Monthly explored the challenges of being an introvert. Introverts often are accused of being too serious, too arrogant, or just too…well, different. Jonathan Rauch, a self-proclaimed introvert, offers tips on caring for friends and family members who happen to be introverts.

Just a few days ago, the New York Times featured an article on a similar topic: How to strike a balanced social life when your family includes introverts and extraverts.

Things haven’t changed. Introverts still need to be understood.

Introverts don’t do well with small…


Productivity isn’t always as consistent as we’d like it to be.

An employee “Bill” varied his arrival time at work. When Bill was late, his boss yelled at him. When Bill was on time, the boss offered praise.

Sure enough, Bill responded. The day after the boss yelled, Bill was on time. And the day after the reward, Bill slacked off and arrived late. So, concluded the boss, praise doesn’t work. And punishment does.

There was only one problem. The data told the wrong story.

A computer demonstrated that Bill’s arrival times showed a pattern of random variation. In fact, the computer could predict quite accurately how Bill would perform — with or without praise and blame.

The same pattern seems to…


Entrepreneurship gets intense. A side hustle can take the pressure off.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

“I feel like I’m going backwards!”

Do you ever feel that way? It’s not uncommon for marketing consultants to hear clients say:

“I’ve had a fairly successful business for several years but find myself losing my fire and enthusiasm. I just got an opportunity to take a full-time job. I started organizing my business to do the bare minimum for the next few months.

“And I got a surprise. I started getting more enthusiastic about my business!”

Sometimes you don’t need to quit. You need to juggle.

When I was getting my Ph.D. at Cal Berkeley, I taught full-time…


Entrepreneurs need stories but not just any story. Here’s how to showcase your brand with your best story.

Photo from Sixteen Miles On Unsplash.

If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re facing the question, “What’s your story?”

Maybe you’re hearing the question at networking events. Maybe your clients seem to want to know more about you. Maybe you’re being interviewed on podcasts.

It’s definitely a fun question. At the same time, it gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself and share more of who you are and what you bring to others. Not every story you share can support your business and implement your strategy.

I have seen many business owners try to follow false guidance to find the perfect story.

They feel…


Today’s career advice is more about mindset than specific job search.

Image by Screen Post from Unsplash.

Can your career advice help your children? And should you even try?

Some time ago, Author Lauren Kim wrote about a dilemma she faced as her child wanted to become a writer. She points out that writing is a hazardous career. Journalists are endangered species. Should she discourage her daughter?

Recently a friend was musing over his son’s interest in becoming a lawyer. “I know so many unhappy lawyers,” he said. “How can I, in good conscience, encourage him?”

I’m not a parent, but I’ve worked mostly with midlife career changers. They’re the ones who live with decisions they made…


It’s about replacing planning with serendipity.

Career change often begins with a statement. “I hate my current job. I want a totally different environment. What are some steps I can take to make a move?”

Alas, many career books give a false impression. They suggest that career change proceeds at an orderly and very linear pace.

Typically, you are advised to take these steps:

  • Look inward to find out who you are.
  • Identify your strengths.
  • Match strengths to careers.
  • Find a career that matches your strengths.
  • Apply for jobs in those fields.
  • Live happily ever after.

Of course, an experienced career consultant will tell you this is hogwash.

The best guide I’ve found is still Herminia Ibarra’s book…


The copywriting advice nobody wants to share.

Copywriters call the first paragraph that appears right after the headline or sub-headline the “opening.” It’s sometimes called a hook because that’s what it does: it hooks readers and motivates them to stay on the page.

Your opening might be

… a startling fact: “The rules of managing money have changed in the last six months.”

… a question: “Are you ready for …”

… the first sentence of a story: “It wasn’t so long ago. I was working as a productivity coach. As part of my coaching, I would ask my clients, ‘What’s your morning ritual?’”

There’s one opening that can be especially tricky.

“If you’re on this page, you’re probably…


Both can be pretty scary…but ultimately there’s nothing like it.

Image by Michiel Ton from Pixabay

I’d been taking improv classes for a couple of years and when Philly Improv added a stand-up comedy class, I signed up. (Actually, I thought about it, and then my friends pushed me.)

In my former life as a college professor, I entertained students every day.

When I give talks to corporate audiences, I use some humor. But these are captive audiences who appreciate any diversion from the business at hand.

Doing a live stand-up comedy performance would be the real test. It was the number one item on my bucket list.

Now, you have to understand I knew almost…


Copywriting is about more than writing sales letters.

Many business owners wonder, “Why bother hiring a copywriter? I’ve got a designer who can do anything. I can write my own words.”

The truth is … you get a lot more when you hire a real copywriter. I’m not talking about the rent-a-writers on Craigslist who charge as little as $30 an hour. But when you hire a professional you get a whole business makeover system.

(1) Make your website irresistible to your target market…and take the hassle out of the process.

The truth is, a website makeover feels like moving. Having just completed a move within Philadelphia, I still feel overwhelmed. When I made decisions myself (like choosing a moving company) I ended up…

Cathy Goodwin

Helping entrepreneurs and independent professionals grow their businesses one story at a time. http://cathygoodwin.com

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