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.

Dec 14

2012

Take Your Lazy Sentences And Piss Off. Politely.

Dec 14, 2012

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 […]

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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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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May 22

2017

Writing Problems Are Idea Problems In Disguise

May 22, 2017

When your idea isn’t clear, you know what you do? Cover it up with blabber. Adjectives. Flowery words that try to compensate for the fact that you don’t actually know what you’re talking about (yetttt). But good ideas stand on their own. If you’re having trouble writing about it, your writing may not be the […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

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Feb 15

2013

25 Words That Will Make You Seem Bland, Useless, Stale, Dime-a-Dozen, Washed-Up and Otherwise Uninteresting, Unimportant and Not Worth Paying Attention To

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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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 17

2016

Poets & Killers Get Rich

May 17, 2016

There are two groups of people: Poets & killers. The poets are running around with their heart placed firmly on their sleeve, hoping that if they do authentic work, it’ll sell itself. The killers, on the other hand, are running around selling everything, none of which is actually authentic, nor genuine, nor useful. (We call […]

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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