Last week I was poking around the website of someone who claims to be an “entrepreneur advisor.” I’m always especially interested in what “advisors” have to say, since, let’s face it, they’ve staked out “best and brightest” territory. You know, people PAY for their opinion. Well, I wouldn’t give you a nickel for this guy’s advice.
It was interesting to see this mean-spirited fellow publicly make fun of one of his clients—someone who had come to him for advice—by printing what he claimed were emails from the actual client and then basically calling her an idiot. Not, in my opinion, a great way to get new clients, and certainly not a great way to keep them!
All I could think of as I was reading his content was this: who in his or her right mind would put up with abuse from a man who hasn’t grasped the basics of American English? Who would PAY to be abused by a self-proclaimed “advisor” who can’t write a decent sentence? His writing is stuffed with comma splices, he hasn’t a clue about the function of a hyphen, and his inability to use quotation marks would shame a fifth grader.
Let’s look at a few of his sentences. I have to limit myself to “a few,” sadly, but more will undoubtedly percolate through future “what-not-to-do” quizzes. For organizational purposes, I’m going to group them by mistake.
Hyphens. Rule: Hyphenate compound adjectives when the compound adjective precedes the noun that it modifies. Exception: Never hyphenate an —ly adverb.
A partnership is a two way street. (Hyphenate two-way, which modifies street.)
Let’s set up a three way conversation. (Hyphenate three-way, which modifies conversation.)
I found a 45 year perspective on household incomes. (Hyphenate 45-year, which modifies perspective.)
Blow the decision making process by selling to the influencer. (Hyphenate decision-making, which modifies process.)
Quotation marks. Rule A: In American English, commas and periods always go inside quotation marks. There are no exceptions. None. Rule B: In American English, use double quotes. Single quotes are only used when quoting someone else in conversation.
One more thing, you can’t say things like, “Trust me.”, “Honestly.” or “Listen to me.”
I skimmed it because it promised “5 Tell-Tale Signs”.
Comma splice. Rule: You cannot join two complete sentences with a comma; you must do one of three things: separate the sentences, join the sentences with a semicolon, or join the sentences with a comma plus a conjunction. These are splendid examples of what a comma splice looks like.
Now, I’m not going to write a treatise on Inbound Marketing, contact Pete.
However, (not intended to be morbid) sometimes machines and technology cannot do the impossible, as in the case of my father, the machine could not put life where there was none.
Noun-pronoun agreement. Rule: You cannot “gender neutral” a singular noun by using a plural pronoun. Singular nouns require singular pronouns.
When a potential client reads a case study, typically it’s because they are looking to see how your company provided a solution to another company in your industry. (A potential client and “they.”)
Also, the professional writer knows how to write a case study as a success story, so it will engage the reader and convince them of the benefits of your products or services. (The reader and “them.” Who’s a “professional writer”?)
Last Thursday, I rewound to the beginning of a sales process so that I could understand how the salesperson and their prospect got to where they were. (The salesperson and “their.”)
Misspellings and missing words. Rule: Read over what you type before you publish!
If you’ve been in sales for a while, you’ve had a sales manager of consultant tell you that you have to qualify your prospects before you give them a proposal, demo or ask them to buy.
Then, one guy says, “I don’t have a tip, but what’s the #1 thing that I should right now to attract the attention of potential customers?”
Multiple mistakes. Sometimes he combined mistakes, to create a whole new taste sensation!
If you answer, “Yes.” to two of them, talk to me.
So, go read the article, judge for yourself and believe what you want to believe about Dave and I (or is it “me and Dave?”).
Well, buddy, you’re the “advisor”; you tell me!
Hey, everyone—listen. There are plenty of “advisors” out there, people who will take a genuine interest in you and your business, and be respectful while they are doing it. You don’t have to settle for less-than-literate, impolite, bombastic hacks. Nobody does.