Conversation on Value4/004

Nick Parker - A dance between clarity and surprise

Good communication conveys a message clearly. Surprise helps the message stick. But there’s a little bit more to it than that. In this episode of Conversation on Value, Nick and I talk about what it means to find your voice, explain things.

Nick Parker was once the creative director at The Writer. Before that, he spent a decade as a writer, editor, and non-ironic corduroy-wearer at The Oldie magazine. And way back, he was a cartoonist for Viz and a joke-writer for the radio.

A business is one of the greatest problem-solving tools humanity has ever invented. A brand is what happens when a business takes Dolly Parton’s advice to figure out who you are, then do it on purpose.

The best communication is always a dance between clarity and surprise. For years, Nick thought he got that quote from neuro-linguist Steven Pinker’s book, Sense of Style. He just checked. Turns out it was something he’d written in a margin. It sounded insightful coming from Pinker. “Sounds a bit pretentious coming from me.”

Nick still thinks of all writing as essentially joke-writing: focus people’s attention so they arrive at your punchline bang on time, with all the information they need for the lightbulb to go on, and for laughter and cheering.
‘Laughter is just the sound we make when all the truth arrives at once.’ Someone who is neither Nick nor Stephen Pinker said that.

Most good ideas are just two unrelated normal ideas, mashed together.

If nothing else, Nick tries to have lots of unrelated normal ideas.

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