Guy Kawasaki Says to Use Poetry in Business

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Guy Kawasaki knows how to use a well-placed rhyme. In yesterday's interview, for instance, he said he wanted to write a book that was "really tactical, really practical."

Rhyming, notes Kawasaki in his latest book, is serious business. People actually believe rhymed statements are more accurate than unrhymed statements; so if you want to remove psychological "fences" for your customers, you might want to speak in rhymes to ease their minds. (I'm assuming Kawasaki isn't recommending that we turn into Dr. Seuss, just that we learn how to use... a well-placed rhyme.)

In a similar poetic vein, Kawasaki also recommends three ways to make our business messages "swallowable": use metaphor, simile, and brevity. Metaphor "[conveys] the meaning of your cause," while similes "provide a familiar starting point," and brevity promotes memory and repetition of your message.

Okay, so Kawasaki never quite says, "Use poetry in business." (That's me taking poetic license. smile But I think just about anybody can recognize that rhyme, metaphor, simile, and brevity are the tools of poetry.

It turns out, in Kawasaki's world, that these poetic tools aren't for lovers. They're for good business.

So if you ever needed permission to become a student of poetry, this is your official invitation to get intimate with Walt Whitman or Billy Collins. This is your day to say, "If poetry is good for business, then poetry is good for me."

As part of your official invitation, I want to give you the chance to revive a dead metaphor in a poem— and post the result on your blog (or here in the comment box if you don't have a blog). Then next Friday, we'll feature one poem (and link to all participants).

What's a Dead Metaphor?

Much of our language is rooted in metaphor (there's one now... did you catch it? smile. Over time metaphors lose their power, become tired. Here are a few you might recognize:

I cried a river of tears
We hammered out our differences
That kind of thinking is a dead end
She broke the ice at the party

Author Kim Addonizio suggests that we try reviving dead metaphors in our poetry, by adding specificity (When you left, I cried the Ganges, I cried the Amazon, I cried the/entire Mississippi...)

Try it out. Take a dead metaphor and get specific with it in a poem. Post your poem link here in the comment box by Wednesday, May 11, for possible feature and definite links. We can't wait to see your CPR. And your first step to better business.

Image by L.L. Barkat. Used with permission. Post by L.L. Barkat, author of God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us. Most of the material on The High Calling is available for reuse under a Creative Commons 3.0 license. Unfortunately, work by Laura Barkat is not available for reuse. If you are interested in reprinting work by Laura Barkat, please contact her directly.