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Gregory Ciotti
Gregory Ciotti explores the intersection of creative work, human behavior, and habits on his blog Sparring Mind. To get weekly essays in your inbox, join his free newsletter.

Entries by Gregory Ciotti

Why You Should Give the Gift of Encouragement

(0) Comments | Posted November 5, 2015 | 5:31 PM

Just as important as the work you do is the person you bring to work. Your mood, outlook, and actions echo out to those around you.

One of the best ways to contribute to your surroundings to give the gift of encouragement.

There are sincere dangers in making "Great work!" an expected...

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Writing That Is Effortless to Read Takes Great Effort to Write

(0) Comments | Posted November 3, 2015 | 11:43 AM

As for how to write well," writes Paul Graham, "here's the short version: Write a bad version 1 as fast as you can; rewrite it over and over; cut out everything unnecessary."

It's all too easy to follow his first piece of advice and then neglect to follow the rest.

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If You Aren't Cringing, You Aren't Improving

(0) Comments | Posted October 29, 2015 | 5:52 PM

Creative work is rarely kind enough to grant the oh-so-satisfying feeling of unquestionable completion.

There is no right. There is no wrong. There's just you and your ideas.

Compare that to an assembly task, one with a defined outcome. When putting together a...

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13 Lessons Learned From 6 Years of Working in My Pajamas

(0) Comments | Posted October 29, 2015 | 4:31 PM

The alchemy of remote work is that location becomes irrelevant; you can quite literally build a team, culture, and company without borders.

At Help Scout, I'm proud of the remote culture we've created. I'll be the first to tell you we've made plenty...

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Why Some People Hate Everything

(0) Comments | Posted June 27, 2015 | 5:05 PM

There's only one way to avoid criticism: Say and do nothing. If you aren't coming across critics, you're not headed in the right direction.

Any worthwhile work will elicit criticism; and it should, thoughtful input makes us better. But there is research that suggests that some critics are harsh by...

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5 Books That Will Improve Your Writing

(0) Comments | Posted June 9, 2015 | 12:15 PM

Remove the fanfare and most writing advice boils down to read more, write more, and get better feedback.

Let's talk about that first one. If writing is output, reading is often the most important input. You'll understand what makes Hemingway's writing exceptional (or overrated) by reading his books, not from taking his...

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Make Your Writing More Meaningful

(0) Comments | Posted June 9, 2015 | 12:14 PM

Writing is an arduous process that seeks to bring abstract ideas into the tangible world.

Writing is valuable. You give voice to your team, help to your customers, and benefit by getting thoughts to page: writing doesn't just transfer ideas, it creates them.

Since good words are worth much and cost...

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The Under-appreciated Benefits of Creative Consistency

(0) Comments | Posted June 1, 2015 | 5:12 PM

Consistency doesn't count for everything, but it sure counts for a whole lot.

With the many land mines out there, ready to derail even the most talented of people, "showing up" regularly offers undeniable benefits.

Some of these perks often go overlooked.

For those excited to make progress this year, let's...

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Don't Do Something You Might Regret

(1) Comments | Posted June 1, 2015 | 3:35 PM

Regret is the worst emotion to base your decisions on. Regret is negative reinforcement. It is self-loathing and destructive.

Why do we often parrot the advice of "Don't do something you might regret?" On the surface, it seems a message made to encourage caution, but it could be structured without the worry...

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Should You Compare Yourself to Others?

(0) Comments | Posted June 1, 2015 | 2:50 PM

A common, tired parlance in the world of personal development is to never compare yourself to others.

The intent is honorable; the advice is terrible.

There is a self-aggrandizing belief that you never need "suffer" from viewing your work next to someone else's. This thinking stems from the fact that it is difficult to recognize...

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How to Write With Substance

(2) Comments | Posted May 11, 2015 | 7:07 PM

Nothing drags down writing more than spreading good ideas over too many words.

Making keystrokes matter has only grown in importance as communication and the text that powers it become increasingly inseparable. Many tools we rely on each day--Gmail, Slack, Asana--would be empty...

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Silence Is a Noxious Gas

(0) Comments | Posted May 11, 2015 | 1:45 PM

Silence can seep throughout an organization, sabotaging motivation, enthusiasm and comradery.

Hard language, harsh reality.

If you don't agree, it's because you haven't felt it looming. Silence allows small setbacks to snowball into bigger problems, makes level-headed folks skittish and causes melancholy and...

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Why Businesses Have a Hard Time Fixing What's Broken

(0) Comments | Posted April 27, 2015 | 5:53 PM

Reinvention always meets resistance. From pivots to process changes, it's tough to have a perfectly smooth transition.

In a New York Times article titled "Why You Hate Work," Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath explore why most people hate their jobs. Through surveys partnered with Harvard Business Review and...

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What is Poor Customer Support Costing Your Business?

(0) Comments | Posted April 26, 2015 | 12:29 AM

While some companies view service as nothing more than an expense, the data show that providing great experiences is just as rewarding for customers as it is for your bottom line.

The web hasn't killed the salesman, but it has empowered consumers in a way...

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How Disney Creates Magical Experiences (and a 70% Return Rate)

(0) Comments | Posted April 18, 2015 | 8:05 PM

Disney's ability to "wow" its fans and captivate customers for decades is explored in depth in Be Our Guest, a veritable handbook for Disney magic.

Of all the facts featured within, perhaps the most surprising is the 70% return...
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How to Talk to Your Angriest Customers

(0) Comments | Posted April 17, 2015 | 11:58 AM

Harsh words are not always indicative of insight. Complaints are not always a sign that something is wrong.

Be that as it may, great feedback can be buried within the vitriol -- give credence to every message.

Oftentimes, a negative experience can be...

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Why Support Stories Spread Like Wildfire

(0) Comments | Posted April 15, 2015 | 5:39 PM

We've all done it.

We experience a positive or negative customer support moment, and then we talk, tweet, text, or write a status update about it. Why?

Think about an angry tweet or status update about an unhelpful Internet provider or an airline's...

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The Customer Always Remembers

(0) Comments | Posted April 14, 2015 | 5:42 PM

Memories are connected moments that coalesce and create the chapters of our lives. When we make a decision, we have a tendency to review the past for reassurance that whatever we are about to do, we'll be okay. At Help Scout, we believe...

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10 Ways to Convert More Customers Using Psychology (Infographic)

(0) Comments | Posted December 7, 2014 | 9:34 PM

The times change, the tools change--but human nature is perpetual.

As Daniel Pink once said, "There's a gap between what science knows and what business does." The study of psychology and its application for marketing to consumers has been brought about by the attempt to bridge this gap.

For the...

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Why You Should Sell Like an Infomercial

(0) Comments | Posted December 2, 2014 | 10:36 PM

People have little interest in purchasing a bed--what they want is a good night's sleep.

Some folks would sleep in a sandbox if it meant they'd wake up refreshed. That's what makes it a real problem in need of a solution.

Beyond selling...

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