ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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Are You (Accidentally) Using Words That Are Triggering People to STOP LISTENING?

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

“Someday, I'm going to drop dead, and you're not going to know how to cook squat.”

She said it at least once a week. Maybe more.

I'd always snubbed my nose at the kitchen; at the trout heads and ground beef balls, the fresh-picked parsley and the pasta fazool.  She was always looking for opportunities to teach me how to cook so I didn't “end up serving my future family that Spaghettio's crap,” but I know now that what she was really looking for was me.

To be her daughter. To be her Bette Midler in Beaches. To let her be my hero. To let her share the only remaining part of her that still felt like her. The capable, proud Italian part the Paxil and the Klonopin hadn't strong-armed away from her. The part that would never overcook the meat.

And anytime I'd run by the kitchen on my way to a volleyball match, or to my shift at the ice cream stand, she'd often just sigh and mumble, “someday…” to herself, letting her words trail off.

To this day, nearly a decade after someday came, when the blood clot T-boned her lung as she was making her morning coffee, any time anyone starts a sentence with “someday,” I finish the rest of it for them in my mind.

“Someday, I'm going to drop dead, and you're not going to know how to cook squat.”

The word “someday” is a trigger.

And if you've ever had a mother—or better yet, if you've ever been a human, you've probably got a few of your own. Your own trigger words that automatically fill in the blanks—or tell your brain to tune out.

And those are the most deadly. Did you know there are certain trigger words that actually signal us to stop listening because the brain thinks it already knows what's going to be said?

Those triggers are useful when, well, you're seventeen and you'd rather go flirt with the boys than learn how to cook, but not so much when you're a business, because those same words are the ones that will put you out of business.

Because if you're accidentally using language that triggers people to stop listening to you, they will.

The brain likes to be as efficient as it can, and if your brain thinks it can fill in the blanks, it will. It loves jumping to conclusions. It's a conclusion whore.

You've probably seen those brain teasers that demonstrate how you can still read words that are completely jumbled as long as the first and the last letters are in tact, right?

That's the same idea. Your brain uses context to help it perceive. So if you're a life coach, or a business coach, or a photographer, or a designer, for example, and you use the same old words that customers are expecting you to use?

They'll automatically assume you're the same old.

It's why draping your sales offers, your products, your service descriptions or your entire website with cliché, overused language is the equivalent of draping them—and your business—with a noose.

Because overused words have lost all their power.

The brain will skip right over 'em.

And customers?

Will skip right over you.

 PRACTICE MAKES PROFIT

What are some other ways we could have said, “when the blood clot T-boned her lung,” to describe a pulmonary embolism?

Hint: There are two questions you always want to ask yourself when you're trying to come up with a more interesting sentence:

1. What are the characteristics of the THING I'm trying to describe?
In this case, one characteristic of a pulmonary embolism is a collision. But naturally, you don't want to say “collision” because that's the most expected way. “…when the blood clot collided with her lung.”

2. What else embodies those same characteristics?
In this case, I had brainstormed a variety of other scenarios that brought to mind a collision:

“when the blood clot bumped into her lung” <—Not dramatic enough
“when the blood clot crashed into her lung” <—Not serious enough for the subject matter
“when the blood clot cymbaled into her lung” <—Nobody will have a fucking clue what that means
“when the blood clot stubbed its toe on her lung” <—More in line with the humorous side of our brand, but not impactful enough. A stubbed toe hurts, but it doesn't result in death.
“when the blood clot T-boned her lung” <—Now we're talking. A T-bone evokes an instant image of a fatal car crash that you could have never saw coming. Precisely what a pulmonary embolism is.

Jan 30

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You know when you’re in a group of people… …and you start telling a story, and that one jerkoff starts talking over you, hollering at the waitress mid-sentence, or answering the phone, or by turning to say something to somebody else, and then all of the sudden you don’t really know if you’re suppose to […]

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Take Your Lazy Sentences And Piss Off. Politely.

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Lazy sentences BOTHER ME. They bother me because it’s not really the sentence being lazy–it’s the person who wrote it. And if that person happens to be a business owner who’s trying to convince me to spend my hard-earned, sweat-soaked, time-drenched money with them? They better demonstrate that they actually WANT MY BUSINESS. Want it […]

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2014

No, I Don’t Want to Be in Your Tribe.

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“No, I don’t want to be in your tribe. I’m not your minion, and I’m not a cow.” -@ateegarden on Twitter. The internet popularized the concept of “finding your tribe,” and while Seth Godin’s book by the same name is right on the money, the term itself has become cliché, stale, trite, boiler plate, and fucking offensive. …As […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

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May 31

2013

Why Your Writing Sucks.

May 31, 2013

There’s a lot of horse shit going around the internet these days about “writing from the heart” and eliciting emotion in your readers/audience/customers/landlords. Okay, so not landlords. And you get it. You know it’s important. Because nobody wants to buy from a faceless mime. But what you don’t know is how to actually do it. […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

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I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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