The idea for Fighting Words came to me as a working stiff at an ad agency. I was chief writer on a killer account: The Jane Goodall Institute (JGI). My mission: To seduce dot com high rollers to give to her Institute. So doing, I had the fortune of meeting with Dr. Goodall, and we hit it off. We worked together in a recording studio in Seattle. And on the set where we re-created her Tanzanian field camp. Writing about Jane and her work, I realized quickly that we shared a belief in the transformational power of storytelling.
THE CHIMPS MADE ME DO IT
To raise big money, I knew we had to tell Dr. Goodall’s life story. And I told Jane this over and over, until one day she cut me off and said, “Don’t prattle on about me. Talk about the chimps.”
And so I did. I told the stories of her favorite chimpanzees back in Gombe National Park—David Greybeard, Fifi, and even the notorious Frodo.
Maybe it was the magic of working with Jane Goodall. But from that day forth, I knew advertising had to tell better stories.
That’s what Fighting Words is all about. Telling stories. Stories about Companies undergoing change. Students discovering their life’s calling. And chimpanzees who changed the world.
Fighting Words isn’t about me. It’s about you. It’s writing—storytelling—that fights for your organization’s interests, be that selling more stuff or recruiting more people.
SOME WRITE HEADLINES.
I WRITE BOOKS
Long conceptual projects make some copywriters run for the hills. Not Fighting Words. I love the challenge of giving faceless institutions a voice, a narrative and a theme to rally behind. From my experience, copywriters prefer writing quick ads to long pieces. But I’ve made a career out of writing long. It’s my sweet spot. College viewbooks, annual reports, fundraising books—this is what writing is all about.
RADIO TEEMS WITH HUNDRED
Thirty second travesties. Sixty seconds of pain. What you hear on the AM/FM dial today destroys the soul. It’s that ugly. But it doesn’t have to be. At Fighting Words, I see radio as the ultimate story-telling medium. I’ve told the story of two Sunny’s crossed lovers in pursuit of the ultimate stocking stuffer. I’ve enlisted bank robbers, Texas hagglers, and Russian cheapskates to tell Goodwill’s story. I’ve even put an airline spokesmen and his microphone so close to a jet engine he was almost sucked through the turbines.
JUST CALL ME OPRAH.
I once interviewed a college kid who told me this: “Before I took astronomy, I never knew anything about the stars. Now I can take a girl out on a date, put a blanket down and in the middle of a field and be like, ‘See that up there—there’s a globular cluster.” Brilliant quote. At least to my ears. Getting people to relax, open up and tell their story is an art. It takes Oprah-esque empathy. A good microphone. And the judicious use of squirming silence. At Fighting Words, I’ve interviewed hundreds of people—from Ted Kennedy, Jr. to Tony Coehlo (Al Gore’s 2000 campaign manager), to Jane Goodall, to students, professors, office workers and CEO’s. I don’t think it’s boasting to say I’ve mastered the form of the short, encapsulated profile.
A WRITER AND A FIGHTER.
As the muscle behind Fighting Words, you might think I’m a tough guy. A fat neck. A head cracker. A real knuckle dragger. Well not exactly.
OK, not at all.
Fighting Words isn’t about tough guys. It’s about tough writing. Writing that fights for you and your organization. If your content isn’t punching through the clutter, Fighting Words will.