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Brian's commentary on WSJ article: "'The Bezos Blueprint' Review: Is Brevity the Soul of Success?"

Updated: Jan 20, 2023

As someone who has taught hundreds of advocacy staff how to write more compelling and impactful emails to volunteers, I was instantly drawn to an article by Bill Heavey in this morning’s The Wall Street Journal that attributed part of online mega-retailer Amazon’s success to its simplified writing style.


The article summarizes a recent book by Carmine Gallo that analyzed 24 years of Jeff Bezos’ Amazon shareholder letters. According to the WSJ article, Gallo’s analysis showed that Bezos believes strongly in short sentences written in a highly readable way.


The sentences in Bezos’ early letters averaged only 18.8 words and were written at an 11th grade level. “Eventually, Mr. Bezos whittled his writing down to even shorter sentences—16 words, instead of 18.8, with a readability score fit for an eighth-grader,” the article states.


Why would one of our country’s all-star businessmen write at a middle school level?


From the article:

“Our brains are not made to think.” You read that right. Mr. Gallo quotes the neuroscientist and author Lisa Feldman Barrett, who says that “your brain’s most important job is to control your body’s energy needs. In short, your brain’s most important job is not thinking.”


I don’t wake up most days comparing myself to Jeff Bezos, but this is one area where we definitely agree.


#digital Simple, highly relevant and emotionally compelling writing is what drives action – whether that’s increasing shareholder value or convincing volunteers to send a message to their lawmakers.


I particularly loved this quote from Gallo: “Narrative is to Amazon what an engine is to a Ferrari.”


If your advocacy team is ready to create high-impact narratives and content that drive great advocacy results, let’s chat. Not only can I help you with your digital engagement strategy and execution, I also offer a customized, four-part training series on how to improve your email campaigns.


I’ll just need to schedule you around my coffee meeting with my new writing partner, Jeff Bezos.

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