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On consistency and patience



Why Words Matter Newsletter August 2021

It’s a business and marketing commonplace that by targeting everyone, you reach no one. After all, trying to be everything for everyone makes you generic and basic at best and confusing and vague at worst.


When running a business, marketing a product, or doing just about anything in life, we work to prioritise our tasks, sort our actions and impose direction and focus on our efforts.


And sometimes we can overestimate our capacity to juggle and carry out everything at the same time.


But there’s a reason why MVPs are smart and multitasking is problematic.


Our time and energy are limited, and a lack of focus inevitably makes us spread ourselves too thin, and even sets us up for premature failure.


So, we may give something a go. Once, perhaps twice, or three times. Yet when we don’t see the results we hoped for, we give up in frustration and quickly move onto the next thing.


There’s value in letting go of what’s not working, but are we giving it a real chance to succeed before pulling the plug?


It’s just physics. It’s impossible to go from 0 to 100 miles per hour instantly. There's an acceleration to increase, a momentum to gain and a traction to achieve before any weight gets up to speed.


And this applies to many things: from that new skill you’d like to develop to the new tactic you’re trying out on your Instagram marketing strategy.


Consistency is key. Consistency and patience.


If you fret and change the plan every time you feel there’s no growth, you’re not giving anything a fair chance to get the speed to take off.


Dream big but begin small. Do one thing, and repeat it again and again. Trust the process and be patient: hopefully results will come.


One step at a time, you’ll get there.



Our highlights this month


1. The Chatbot problem

Stephen Marche, The New Yorker

A look into the reasons that chatbots consistently fail. What it boils down to, Marche argues, is the prejudices that are inherent in our languages that we use to train AIs. A timely reminder that it’s not just the existence of a word that determines its meaning but who uses it, when, and under what conditions.



2. What happened when I stopped using emojis

Clo S., UX collective

(Warning: contains references to suicide, lynching and death threats.)

Delving into the world of messaging and meaning, this article sheds light on how emojis came into being. Love them or hate them, our communications are littered with them. So, what happens when you simply stop using them?



3. Consumer culture is dead. Long live creators

Damien Walter

A long read that contemplates how a more equal society will allow everyone the time and freedom to follow their creative passions. Walters suggests that being empowered creatively could be the antidote to consumerism that we, and the planet, so desperately need.



4. Why is the English spelling system so weird and inconsistent?

Arika Okrent

Ever wondered why ‘ough’ can be pronounced as ‘aw’ (thought), ‘ow’ (drought), ‘uff’ (tough), ‘off’ (cough), ‘oo’ (through), or ‘oh’ (though)? It turns out technology has a lot to do with it. A deep dive into the messy history of English and the role of writing and printing in its weirdness.



5. How we designed Cards for Humanity, an inclusive design tool

Eva Tkautz, Medium

We’re huge fans of Cards for humanity, and it’s great to hear the story behind it. Its creators invite us to ‘step outside our bubble’, leave biases and assumptions at the door, and look at the things we write and design through multiple lenses. You can also use their assessment tool, the Universal Score to find out how well you design for inclusion and belonging.