ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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Starting a Sentence With “In My Opinion” is Bad for Business. Here’s Why.

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

Let me ask you something.

If suddenly the building you're in burst into gigantic, explosive flames, who would you follow to safety? The guy standing meekly by the exit whispering, “I think it's this way, you guys?” or the guy who booms in a calm, confident, steady, self-assured voice, “THIS WAY.” (Sorry, ladies, following Vin Diesel is not an option.)

As humans, we instinctually crave this kind of confidence. We want to feel confident, too, so naturally, we're drawn to it.

This is why we cringe when we hear someone talk and they're all “um” and “like.” HOW HARD IS IT TO TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY? Really hard. Like, get this guy a [extra title=”That's probably not the right drug, but just go with it.” info=”tooltip” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]Xanax. [/extra] He's not even in charge of his speech; how can he be in charge of anything else?

I know you know what I'm talking about. You cringe when you hear the stuttery, disjointed speech too, right?

Well, guess what. I HAVE HORRIBLE NEWS.

You don't have to be speaking to sound like an unconfident, fearful schmuck. Your writing can make you sound that way, too.

A lot of people ask me what they're doing wrong. No one's following them. No one's reading what they're writing. No one's caring what they're saying.

And sometimes, the answer is as simple as this: They don't believe you. 

We've all got this annoying habit of tempering our writing, our thoughts, our ideas with language that mitigates the risk. The risk of having someone disagree. The risk of sounding too pompous. The risk of someone countering our ideas.

So we say things like:

“In my opinion…”
“I'm not sure if you've experienced this, but…”
“Without wanting to offend anyone, ______”
“I think…”

And we take all the wind right out of our words. Do you know something as little as prefacing your ideas with “I think” can be incredibly disempowering? It's your writing; we already know it's what you think. We don't need the extra disclaimer. Get to the idea. Prefacing a statement with “I think” sounds like you're asking permission for your thoughts. And confident leaders—the self-assured man guiding you out of the building—isn't saying, “I think we should go this way.” He's saying “LET'S GO.”

I know it can be scary to put yourself out there and say what you really want to say.

But if the goal is to be taken seriously as a leader in your field?

Then act like a leader you must.

Because asking for permission to lead isn't how movements get made.

Leading is.

Feb 15

2013

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Feb 15, 2013

If you want to stand out, feel fresh, appear interesting and get noticed… …then you’ve got to use language that stands out, feels fresh, is interesting and gets noticed. This is common sense, but of course, it’s easier said than done. It’s tempting to use the first words that come to your mind, but usually? Those […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

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2014

No, I Don’t Want to Be in Your Tribe.

Jul 15, 2014

“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 clichĂ©, stale, trite, boiler plate, and fucking offensive. …As […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

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Jun 28

2016

How to Be Interesting As Hell On Paper

Jun 28, 2016

Agency. It was one of the first things my book editor said to me. “These parts need more agency.” And I obviously said: Like the CIA? And she said: Shoot me. And I said: Is that a CIA joke? So while furiously drinking wine and researching this new writing foe—agency—I had been delighted to discover […]

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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Mar 4

2016

How to Stop Writing With a Stick Up Your Ass

Mar 4, 2016

One of the things I get asked about forty hundred times a day (besides whether or not I know there’s a hair sprouting from my chin) is this: Where’s the line between personality and unprofessional? Because apparently I’m known for walking the line between mental inspiration and mental institution—as every writer worth their weight should. […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

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Jan 11

2013

How to Sell Anything In One Paragraph Or Less

Jan 11, 2013

What if I told you I could sell anything in one paragraph or less? (Stop glancing skeptically at the screen. I can see up your nose.) You know what kind of paragraph I’m talking about–the sorely neglected, overlooked and undervalued product description. *cue tambourine and this song* Product descriptions have the power to make or […]

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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But no serial killers. I promise I won’t send those.

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