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Oct '13

Brevity

If I had to pick a favorite quote (which would be next to impossible for me), this one would probably take the cake:

“The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter.” –Blaise Pascal (or Mark Twain, but he’s attributed to most good quotes the world over)

While many would pick something a little more motivational, inspiring or witty, I find that this is one of the most useful quotes in my life. As many of you know (and those who don’t should count themselves lucky), Aaron and I have a tendency to be rather wordy people. We love to talk. We’ll spend hours at a coffee shop, a bar, the car, our living room, or pretty much anywhere discussing everything from where the next technological revolution will occur to why that most recent TV ad was so successful.

While I do think there is a time and a place for discussion, I have come to enjoy the challenge of making a concise point. I have sat in many a meeting that would have been well-served by the implementation of this quote (by me and by others). People like to talk, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but if you can first take the time to figure out what the point is you are trying to make (rather than figuring it out as you speak), everyone is better off. You come off sounding more confident and others are able to better understand your position. Plus, it saves everyone a whole lot of time.

So, for us, brevity is a virtue. We’re being forced into learning this quite quickly through Aaron’s MBA program.  It started with this assignment: “Identify the top 3 global challenges best addressed through an entrepreneurial approach, and examples in the industry.” While for us this would be the topic of a dissertation, Aaron had a week and 2 pages to make his case (check it out here: The Refrigerator Door)

Then, this past week, Aaron had 10 minutes to present on the market opportunities surrounding subsistence agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa. I can’t even explain the assignment in under 10 minutes so you’ll just have to join us for coffee if you’d like to learn more.

With these two assignments, we’ve been forced to learn how to get to the meat of an issue as quickly as possible. It requires a lot more preparation and research to be able to accomplish this, but in both cases, we’ve found that the shorter version is exponentially better than the longer one.

In light of the theme of this post, I’m going to leave you at that. I’d love to have a long-winded conversation about your thoughts on the subject. 🙂

 

5 comments »

5 comments to “Brevity”

  1. Shelley Says:

    Love your wittiness, Abby! Even more, I love that fact that both you and Aaron are studying for this MBA together.

  2. Greg Says:

    I really enjoyed reading your MBA paper on Poverty Alleviation. Keep up the good work.

  3. Abby Says:

    Thanks Greg!! We need to find a time we can get to Denver and catch up with you!

  4. Abby Says:

    Yes, Shelley! I’m trying to keep up! Miss you!

  5. World Wide Wonderings » Blog Archive » What is “Social Enterprise”? Says:

    […] scenarios, the pros and cons and the consequences of each choice (we did not take our lesson on Brevity to heart yet…), we ultimately decided to return […]

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