Blog Linguagem: 1st Anniversary. Jan 2015: 100% Growth!


We broke all our records in Jan 2015 with a 100% growth.  Join us now: http://www.jorgesette.com

LINGUAGEM, MARKETING, SALES TRAINING, CULTURE, ART

100% GROWTH

100% GROWTH

 

Our main customers. Where do they come from?

Our main customers. Where do they come from?

 

 

Click on the link below to check out our latest stats in PDF format.

Blog LINGUAGEM- First Anniversary

 

Au revoir

 

Jorge Sette.

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5 INTRIGUING BUSINESS LESSONS FROM AMAZON’S JEFF BEZOS


5 INTRIGUING BUSINESS LESSONS FROM AMAZON'S JEFF BEZOS

Click on the image above to access the full text.

Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon: a must-read novel


I’m planning to eat a moqueca today, a typical Brazilian dish consisting of salt water fish stew in coconut milk, onions, garlic, tomatoes, coriander and dendê oil from Bahia. This will be my way of celebrating having finished the delicious novel Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon by Brazilian writer Jorge Amado.

Despite the fact that our literature is not very well known outside the borders of Brazil, chances are the reader will have heard of Amado and his homeland, Bahia. He is one of our most popular writers of the XX century, and his books have been translated into more than 40 languages throughout the world.

Many of his works have been turned into famous Brazilian soap operas, miniseries and movies, but, of course, the experience of watching Amado either on the big or small screen does not compare to the much deeper pleasure of embarking on the deliciously funny, poetic and encompassing canvas of his writing.

Sônia Braga, as Gabriela

Sônia Braga, as Gabriela

Jorge Amado treats the reader with a wealth of unforgettable characters from the lowest to the highest echelons of the provincial cities of the northeast of Brazil, who intermingle in a network of politics, friendships, romance and violence.

Gabriela, the novel, is a dream of humor, poetry and cultural information. As a Brazilian, it felt great to be transported to the Ilhéus (a town on the coast of Bahia) of the first decades of last century, when the booming of the cacao exportation was making changes in the town and its customs at a pace never seen before. Progress was threatening the lifestyle and status quo of the families of the first farmers who got hold of huge expanses of land by force, with the help of their armed jagunços, never hesitating to use violence and murder in constant ambushes against their opponents. But now times were changing, with the arrival of technology and progressist businessmen, who came to those backward towns attracted  by the riches generated by the cacao.

Jorge Amado delivers his prose in a light, funny and detached tone, packed with irony, yet showing great warmth and understanding towards his characters. He depicts prostitutes, rich farmers (the so-called “colonels”), their minions (“jagunços”), churchgoing  and gossipy splinters, lonely concubines, small time businessmen and pathetic pseudo-intellectuals, against the backdrop of the geography and culture of the small provincial cities of the early decades of the 20th century. His prose will stay with you for a long time after you close the book (or switch off your Kindle), such is its power and universality.

Moreover, “Gabriela” is a very sensual text, filled with the colors, smells and tastes of Bahia. It’s a book that celebrates life and the liberation of minds, especially women’s, from the colonial chains and obsolete traditions of a male-dominated society. It’s a radical hymn against machismo, opening up doors to the possibility of freedom.

Gabriela, the protagonist, represents the essence of Brazilianness, in her beauty, simplicity, lightheartedness and pleasure for life. Of course, both the main characters of “Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon” and “Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands”, another famous Amado novel, are deeply associated in our minds with the image of Brazilian actress Sônia Braga, who portrayed them both in famous movies and soap operas during the seventies. Of course, I was too young at the time to fully enjoy them – this, however, does not stop me from putting the face of Ms Braga to the wild Gabriela of the pages of the novel. After all, Sonia Braga was an icon of Brazilian sexuality and beauty in her day.

Jorge Amado is a pleasure to read. His stories will certainly make a profound mark in your life and deepen the awareness you may have of Brazilian culture. I strongly recommend you have a go at it.

Au revoir,

Jorge Sette.

 

Should you have a blog as a marketer?


“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingway

As we all bloggers know, Hemingway did nail the writing process in his quote above. Yes, it’s hard; yes, it’s time-consuming; no, it’s never right the first time around. Writing is rewriting. For a 1000-word blog post, I would say the average blogger would write at least 10 drafts before he is reasonably satisfied with the result. He is lucky if he has an editor to help with the polishing, but that is not usually the case.

However, in this day and age of content marketing, you would be crazy as a marketer if you did not sit down at least once a week to create or repurpose some  written content to post on the Internet. Let me highlight in this post the features of good blog posts and how your business could benefit from them.

Figure Writing Reflected in a Mirror by Bacon, Francis, 1976

Figure Writing Reflected in a Mirror by Bacon, Francis, 1976

1. Search engine optimization: provided you offer useful and original content, employing the relevant key words, blogging will help your business show up on the SERPs (search engine results pages) of your prospective clients. I don’t know many people today who will not go to Google at some point during the buying cycle to do a search before actually purchasing a product or service. So, to be available, to show up, it will help to have a carefully SEOed (search engine optimized) blog to pop up on the first page.

2. Answer your customers questions: the buying process – the cycle your prospects go through before committing to a purchase –  consists of the the following phases: first, the prospect needs to identify a need or problem; second, they will try to learn about possible solutions; third, they will start shopping for the ideal solution; afterwards, when they are ready, they will look for directions to actually buy it (online or offline); finally, when they start using the product, they might have problems or questions about it, so you need to offer them prompt customer service. Your blog needs to account for each one of these phases and provide the appropriate answers to help them at the stage they are, moving them along the sales funnel. It takes close communication between Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to identify the customers most frequently asked questions and issues, and try to solve them through your blog content. So it’s time to cooperate (there’s no need to tell me how hard this can be, but it’s worth trying): salespeople and customer service professionals need to develop their marketing skills, while marketers should learn more about the customers from sales and customer service so they can provide qualified leads.

3. Thought leadership: by covering content that speaks to the different needs of your customers at the different stages of the buying process you will soon develop a reputation of an expert in the field. Even if you don’t get conversions in terms of sales at the first moment, your customers will grow to trust your opinions and respect your points of view. When the time comes for them to make a buying decision, who do you think they will turn to?

4. Style: your blog is not supposed to be a work of art if you are a marketer. So write as simply and elegantly as possible, as if you were actually “talking” to the prospect. A marketer’s blog is not a piece of literature, so tone down your message, and be objective and direct. Of course it would help to be aware of the reading level of your audience, but “according to many reports (including the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics’ 1992 Adult Literacy survey), the average reading level is the 7th or 8th grade. Combine that with reports of increasingly low-attention spans of Internet users who require even milder language and you’re looking at a reading level of the 6th or 7th grade”  (http://blog.ezinearticles.com/2013/10/ezinearticles-asks-what-reading-level-should-you-target.html) . If you really wish to fine tune your text’s level of difficulty, there are some tools on the Internet (try the Readability Test Tool, for example, http://read-able.com) that will allow you to measure it.

5. The title: the importance of a catchy title to crown your blog post cannot be underestimated. This is the first impression you will make on the reader, and you only have a couple of seconds to entice them. So think carefully about it. Putting yourself in the shoes of a journalist may help, after all, this is your headline. Research says that questions are a good way to go, as they tease the reader into looking for the answer in the text.

6. Promoting and Repurposing: to make the most of all the effort you put into writing your piece, promoting your blog is a must. Use your social media channels with this objective. Putting links to your blog post repeatedly, however,  may not be the solution (although you’ll have to do it occasionally). Be careful not to make your audience feel spammed. Another solution is to repurpose your content and distribute it in different formats to suit the different social media channels: write a summary of the content as an image (for Instagram); use the photos you put in your blog post with a link to it (Instagram, Facebook); write a headline for your blog with a link to it (Twitter); turn it into an infographics poster (Pinterest); use the main points for a slide presentation (slideshare), etc.

As with most things in life, practice makes perfect. Some people say they blog everyday so they can improve.  Research indicates that to be excellent at a skill you need to have spent at least 10,000 hours at it (read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”  for a deeper explanation on this). Maybe you don’t have that  amount of time available anymore, but I would say it’s never too late to get started. What you can’t afford to do as a marketer is NOT to have a blog. How about starting today?

Au revoir

Jorge Sette

Storytelling with Norman Rockwell


Storytelling with Norman Rockwell

Click on the picture to access the SlideShare presentation.

Note: you might want to check out our new book TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: MATISSE   available  from AMAZON.COM as an ebook.  Click here for more info: 

http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1kP

Storytelling with Winslow Homer, the famous American Painter


Storytelling with Winslow Homer, the famous American Painter

Winslow Homer.  Click on the picture to access the SlideShare presentation. You might want to check  out our post on the mythological structure of storytelling as well:  http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-F2

Note: you might want to check out our new book TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: MATISSE   available  from AMAZON.COM as an ebook.  Click here for more info: 

http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1kP

 

The power of storytelling (the mythological structure)


“There is no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth.” 
 Doris Lessing

Those who have seen the film LIFE OF PI will have no problem relating the quote above to the movie’s main theme. At the end of the movie, we understand that the narrative may as well have been a metaphorical one, and we are asked to choose which version of the truth we would prefer: the one told through analogies and mythology or a raw sequence of facts. I have made my choice. You will have to make yours.

Like all great movies, Life of Pi lends itself to a number of interpretations, has layers and layers of meanings, and covers many different themes. The one that resonated the most with me, however, was its acclaim of the power of storytelling.

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Carl Jung, the renowned psychoanalyst, pointed out that the characters (archetypes) and motifs we find in mythological stories are the same we generate in dreams. Joseph Campbell, the famous mythologist and writer, in his seminal book THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES, took Jung’s ideas further and proposed that all stories involving the myth of a hero have the same deep structure and feature the same archetypes, although they appear in different shapes and forms: the myth of the hero wears a thousand faces after all. In his book, he analyzes a great number of mythological stories from different cultures at different times to prove his point. He is very persuasive, I must admit.

In the 1980s, Christopher Vogler, a Hollywood development executive, adapted and simplified the ideas of Joseph Campbell to be applied in scriptwriting and moviemaking. He compiled a seven-page memo for the big shots in Hollywood that revolutionized the industry. Later this memo was turned into a book (The Writer’s Journey) which, to this day, is considered a bible for scriptwriters in the business. After all, important directors such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Francis Ford Coppola had all drunk from the fountain of Campbell’s ideas to produce some of their most brilliant works.

Without getting too technical, let’s just cover the main steps of a typical hero’s journey to give you an idea of the phases of stories that deeply resonate with us, basically because they find an echo in the depths of our psyche. Then, if you are interested, you can expand your knowledge by referring to the original and more complete sources. A typical mythological hero follows this path:

Ordinary World: at the beginning of the story, the hero is shown in his natural habitat, living his normal life, but we can already sense that he does not really fit in, there’s something missing, he may not be totally adapted to the context.

Call to Adventure: at some point afterward, the hero is called upon action. Something happens that affects or changes his life. The news that prompts the change is usually brought to him by an archetype we call the herald. Unless the hero does something about the novel situation, his life or the lives of his friends and loved ones will be in danger.

Refusal of the call: but the hero resists the call. He comes up with all kinds of excuses not to embark on this journey. He is afraid.

Meeting with the mentor: at this point an older man or woman, usually grumpy or funny, shows up and intervenes, lending the hero guidance and support, goading him to take the bait and start his adventure.

Crossing the first threshold: that’s when the story gets really started, the hero accepts the challenge and will confront his first problems. An enemy will try to prevent him from entering the world of the adventure. The hero will somehow manage to bypass this entity and move on.

Tests, allies and enemies: now, for a long stretch of the story, the hero will be going through a series of trials and obstacles on the journey towards his goal. He will meet supportive characters but also many foes, of all kinds, will cross his path.

Approach to the innermost cave: all the obstacles will lead him to the biggest of them all. The hero and his allies prepare for it.

Ordeal: arriving at this climactic point, the hero will face death or an almost insurmountable problem.  He deals with it as bravely as he can.

Reward (seizing the Sword): he survives the ordeal and gets a prize (a metaphorical “sword”), which will help him get  through the rest of his mission.

The Road Back: now, with the mission almost accomplished, the hero will try to get back home. He’s already transformed  somehow by the experience, but will still have to confront a lot of opposition (usually represented by a “chase scene” in modern movies) before he gets back home.

Resurrection: this is the hero’s final problem, occurring right before he’s able to cross the threshold back home. Another climactic moment. The hero struggles courageously and is rewarded with the “elixir” (something that he will take back to the community he came from to help the others get to a more elevated stage)

Return with the Elixir: the elixir is passed on to the community. End of the story.

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Joseph Campbell

If you pay close attention to the movies you like the most, you will be able to identify this structure. Of course, this framework should lend itself to all kinds of variations. It’s not supposed to be a formula. Some of the steps may be missed or shuffled around, the circumstances and situations the hero finds himself in can be very diverse. This is what makes movies and stories magical. But the firmer the skeleton of the narrative, the closer it gets to the steps of the myth of the hero, the more it will resonate with an audience.

Nevertheless, to really understand how stories are built, we would still need to discuss the archetypical nature of the characters in narratives in more detail (remember we mentioned the herald and the mentor in passing?),  but that is beyond the scope of this post. We will resume this topic in a future post.

Also, storytelling is a great tool for language learning and we will discuss how it can be used in the classroom on another occasion.

For now, that is all.

(you may way now to read my post MORE STORYTELLING TIPS FOR MARKETERS: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-UK )

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.

Interviewing Philip Roth – the movie


Based on some of my previous posts on Facebook, Twitter and this blog, many of you will already know that Philip Roth is one of my favorite writers. At 81, he is considered by many the greatest living American writer. I can’t get enough of his books. They usually investigate the depths of the human soul, are packed with painful truths, but also convey a dark sense of humor, which makes them irresistible.

Although I have already reread many of his novels, the good news is he’s so prolific that I haven’t been able to cover the whole list yet. So there is a lot to look forward to. I don’t think I will ever have an opportunity to talk to him in person, as he is very reclusive and private. And, to be quite honest, I would not like that to happen, as I want to preserve the idealized image I have of him – so I imagined what an interview with him would be like. His answers are known quotes.

7 Reasons I Prefer e-Books to Print Ones.


I know, paper book lover, you are offended even before you start reading this post. And, believe me, I completely understand your love for this dear old object that dates back to the 1500s, following the development of the movable types by Gutenberg  (although in Asia this happened even before). I even share that warm feeling towards the smell of newly-acquired books. Just like you, I’m also awed by its amazing endurance, after all it’s been around for more than 500 years with little variation.

However, I’m sorry to herald the news that its days are numbered. And the process of replacement will be faster than you think. Print books will always be valued, but more and more they will become a relic, used more as an ornament, a piece of decoration, having the status we give to contemporary coffee-table books. They will be regarded as a beautiful, yet a bit funny, object of a previous era, very much like the clay tablet, papyrus scrolls and parchments we respectfully admire in museums today. I don’t remember seeing anyone reading the latest Paulo Coelho on a papyrus scroll on the subway recently! Print books will represent something antique and valuable, but I doubt people will use it practically. E-books will progressively replace them.  Starting from school materials.

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 9.11.55 AM

The evolution of reading

At the risk of sounding pretentious, I honestly believe that I may have been among the first Brazilians to have a Kindle. I know that because I ordered the hardware the minute it was available to Brazil, meaning that the  download of  books would work here without the need for any hacking or tricks. That happened two years after its launch in the US. However, I had been reading digitally even before that, as I owned an e-reader account in the medieval days of Palm PDAs.

But let me tell you the reasons I have loved e-books from the first moment I heard about them.

1. Availability of titles in English

If you couldn’t read in English, there was no point in having a Kindle at its inception, as most books available were in this language. I’ve always read more in English than in Portuguese (despite the fact that the latter is my native language), and it was always a bit frustrating not to have access to some of the books I wanted hot off the press. Whenever I traveled to the US,  I would come back with a huge load of these Gutenberguian objects, which made my backpack really heavy and uncomfortable. To this day I can’t get over the fact that any content is now just a mouse click away to be ordered, whenever and wherever you are.

2. Portability

I’m  always reading three or four books at the same time (sometimes more). I get easily bored, and like to move from one topic to another very quickly. How can you do that with print books when you are away from home? I must confess that this volatility of mine got even worse now that I’m able to carry my library around on my iPhone. Print books begin to feel awkward to carry and even to read from, once you get used to tablets and smart phones. Try accessing the left-hand page of a thick paperback!

3. Samples

Whenever I come across an interesting mention about a book, I instantly access Amazon.com and download a sample. I must admit I tend to purchase it later, which makes me  a very easy prey for these kinds of ultra-smart marketing tactics.

4. Speed

There is a lot out there to catch up with and I have only a lifetime. Somehow you move faster on digital text, there are many reasons why, one being the very fact that you avoid  losing seconds – that add up – turning pages. All you have to do at the end of a digital page is to tap on it and you are instantly taken to the next one. I have just read about a new speed reading app, called Spritz (http://www.spritzinc.com), and tried it out. I realized it’s pretty addictive and I’m sure I will be moving on to it as soon as it’s available. Yes, I know about the Woody Allen joke: he speed read through War and Peace and all he remembered  at the end was that it may have been about some kind of war in Russia. If it gets this bad, I will quit trying to increase my pace, promise.

5. The size of the font

One is not twenty years old forever, and the eyesight suffers with time. Even with glasses, very small fonts are irritating. So, to be able to choose and control the size of the font you are reading in is a great advantage.

6. Instant access to a dictionary

I love words, and the process of making new acquaintances, stumbling upon prospective friends and identifying them is made a lot simpler and quicker on a e-book. Click on the word and the definition  pops up.

7. The fact that you can highlight, bookmark and annotate orderly and beautifully

These are  some of  the things that always comes up whenever I listen to someone defending print books. They say they can’t move on to digital books as they love to highlight and comment on passages. Obviously, they are unaware that these have always been features of e-books, since their dawn. And you can do it in different colors, without ever having the problem of your marker running out of ink.

I’m sure that, by now, you, print book lover, are hating me even more, if you ever got to this point in the text, and certainly will want to hit me in the head with one of the heaviest of these outdated objects you might have at hand: The Complete Works of Shakespeare? I will duck and try to run away, carrying with me not only a similar copy in my e-library, but also, the Complete Works of Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, and Edgar Allan Poe…plus the Bible! Ah, and, classics as they are,  they cost me nothing, or only a couple of dollars on Amazon!

NOTE: You might want to check out our eBooks available  from AMAZON.COM. Just click here to know more about the series TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART:  http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS

Teaching English with art

Teaching English with art

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.