Celebrating the Big 25!

number 25 in flat designYeah, that’s right. Last week, I told you no one cares about your anniversary and/or your birthday. And now here I am, whooping it up over our 25th Language Lab podcast.

But I’m not really whooping. I’m sharing.

I just took a look at which podcasts had been listened to the most. To be honest, I thought there’d be a type of word that piqued listeners’ interest. New words or funky words or made up words. You see, podcasting was a new venture for Claxon. It was an experiment. The goal was to offer word-loving do-gooders a new way to think about language (and, on occasion, life).  To that end, we’ve looked at a wide variety of words: words we use all the time (e.g. ‘and’), words we rarely use (e.g. ‘peregrination’) and words that aren’t really words at all (e.g. ‘alot’).

As you’ll see from the Top 3 Most-Listened to Podcasts below, there wasn’t a trend. Nope. No type of word jumped out as most popular and compelling. Oh well. Still fun to see which words got the most air-time, as it were.

If you have shared these podcasts with others–THANK YOU. I work hard to make these podcasts worthy of your time and deeply appreciate you sharing them with others.

If haven’t listened to a podcast yet, here are the ones your do-gooding colleagues have found the most interesting. I hope you enjoy!







No one cares about your anniversary

Delicious birthday cupcake on table on light backgroundJust like you and your mom are really the only ones who care about your birthday, very few people care when your organization has an anniversary.

The reality is people care about ourselves. It’s human nature. So your birthday really isn’t that big of a deal to most other people. Not that they aren’t happy for you. But it’s not, like, a super huge deal.

Ditto for organizational anniversaries. Should you celebrate milestones? Sure. But make sure you’re clear on what you’re really doing and why. Don’t waste resources celebrating something that other people don’t really care about.

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, don’t make the celebration about your organization. Make it about the change you’ve created during that period of time. Make it about the people you’ve been fortunate enough to serve and work with. Make it about your donors and volunteers and supporters who made it all possible.

Birthdays and anniversaries are good times to pause and reflect on who, and what, is important to you. What’s working? Who can you thank for that? What’s not working? How can you change that?

One handy, yet albeit odd, way to come at this whole birthday/anniversary thing is from the perspective of a eulogy.  Sounds weird but is really powerful. Listen to this week’s podcast and you’ll get to hear one of the very best “eulogies” ever written. It’ll give you a whole new perspective on things!


Should you stick with it or take a break?

humor, journey, arriving, lead

When it comes to messaging and language and words, it’s easy to get stuck. You’ve stared at the same set of words for hours. You want to yank your hair out. But the deadline is looming. You must stick with it!!!

Yes, you have to remain focused on your priority for the day. But maybe what you need is a good ol’ peregrination. Yep, some purposeful mental meandering might be exactly what you need to get you to your goal. 

Not sure what a peregrination is? Kick up your heels and find it in this week’s podcast. You just might find that taking a break gets you closer to arriving at your destination.


Are you sorry? Really?

Sorry Torn Paper ConceptAs I was walking into the office this morning, a woman with a jaunty ponytail was wheeling a trolley filled with boxes through a set of double doors. I had to wait about 8 seconds for her to maneuver through the door. As she passed me, she said, “So sorry to make you wait.”

I thought, “Geez, no need to be sorry. No biggie to have to wait. It was only 8 seconds!”

This got me thinking about the word ‘sorry’. We hear it and use it all the time. But what does it really mean?!

Vicki, one of our fab interns, thinks the words ‘I’m sorry’ are straight up lame. She goes so far as to tell us never to say ‘I’m sorry’ in this post.

I’m not sure I can get behind the categorical elimination of the words “I’m sorry” because sometimes you really are sorry. It’s how you say the words and what you follow up with that makes a difference, it turns out. If you listen to this week’s Language Lab podcast, I lay out the anatomy of an effective apology and look at how different cultures relate to, and use, the word ‘sorry’. Kinda fascinating, IMHO.

The Wordifier
data showed us that 16.9% of nonprofits use the word ‘sorry’ on their website. It gets a yellow “Whoa, Nelly” light. I’m curious about this. Are nonprofits sorry for something they’ve done? Are they referring to a sorry state of affairs which they are trying to rectify? For what are nonprofits sorry? Certainly not for doing everything in their power to create a better world. Further research may reveal more on nonprofits’ relationship with apologies. I just hope they’re following-up with the two magic questions that make for an effective apology (which I cover, yep, in the podcast).



Are you confussled?

Businessman confusingConfused + fussed = confussled

Yep, it’s a sniglet. My daughter coined it while doing her homework recently. Flummoxed could’ve worked. But confussled is so fun to say that it makes you smile. And when you smile, you become less fussed about the whatever is bugging you. So you un-confussle yourself just by saying you’re confussled. How cool is that?!

This podcast is about language’s infinite capacity for adaptability…and what that means for you.


Heard any good sniglets recently?

I love(rize) you!

BackgroundHEARTLIGHTS-01Love. A simple word. A powerful word. A word chockablock full of emotion.

Yet not a word we tend to use when referring to donors or supporters or others who are critically important to the success of our organization. Which is weird, when you think about it, because you generally feel “deep affection” for people who make you successful, right?

Likely the word love is too loaded. And too closely associated with behavior that would be (ahem) inappropriate in the context of a professional relationship.

So let’s give Dr. Jen Shang Sargeant a great, big THANK YOU for coming up with an entirely new, entirely appropriate, and entirely awesome word: loverize!

Listen to this week’s podcast and fall in love with the word loverize…

How will you show the people who help you succeed (or just make you really, really happy) that you loverize them?

Conjunction Junction & the All-Powerful ‘And’

Language Lab podcast, free tools, nonprofits, language, words, messagingSmall words matter. They can be oh so powerful. Yet they bounce off of our lips so quickly that you hardly notice them. But notice them you should!

Take for example the humble ‘and’. How many times in a day do you use it? How about ‘but’? Both have three letters. Both have two consonants and one vowel. Both are used primarily as conjunctions. And that’s where the similarities end.

And brings people, things, thoughts, ideas together. But pushes them apart. And is packed with positivity. But drips with negativity.

Take three minutes and contemplate the All-Powerful And with me in this week’s Language Lab podcast.

[If you’re like me, you totally want to listen to Conjunction Junction right about now…here you go.]

And for those of you who like to read your poetry, rather than listen to it, here is the excerpt from Richard Rohr’s book The Naked Now that inspired this week’s podcast. (Many thanks to Julie Lombardo for sending this my way!)

“And” teaches us to say yes
“And” allows us to be both-and
“And” keeps us from either-or
“And” teaches us to be patient and long-suffering
“And” is willing to wait for insight and integration
“And” keeps us from dualistic thinking
“And” does not divide the field of the moment
“And” helps us to live in the always imperfect now
“And” keeps us inclusive and compassionate toward everything
“And” demands that our contemplation become action
“And” insists that our action is also contemplative
“And” heals our racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism
“And” keeps us from the false choice of liberal or conservative
“And” allows us to critique both sides of things
“And” allows us to enjoy both sides of things
“And” is far beyond anyone nation or political party
“And” helps us face and accept our own dark side
“And” allows us to ask for forgiveness and to apologize
“And” is the mystery of paradox in all things
“And” is the way of mercy
“And” makes daily, practical love possible
“And” does not trust love if it is not also justice
“And” does not trust justice if it is not also love
“And” is far beyond my religion versus your religion
“And” allows us to be both distinct and yet united
“And” is the very Mystery of Trinity

Can you be on a mission without a vision?

vision, missionAs you know, dear reader, I have a love/hate relationship with Mission Statements.

Last year, after much existential and linguistic dithering, rather than acting like nonprofits could simply ignore the fact that their mission statements might stink, I came down in favor of nonprofits coming up with mission statements that were worthy of their work.

After becoming fully disheartened by the fact that nearly 50% of nonprofits have mission statements that are technically incomprehensible, I wrote this post and this one and this one and ended up hosting a Worst Mission Statement Contest…all in the spirit of teaching nonprofits how to craft clear, compelling mission statements. Heck, it’s largely why I created the ding dang Wordifier!

To be clear: convoluted mission statements aren’t just irritating, they’re costly because if supporters can’t quickly and easily understand what you’re about, they won’t engage.

Equally, if not more, distressing is that it would seem the root cause of the lame language in mission statements is the absence of a clearly articulated vision. Without a clear vision, how can you come up with a kick ass mission? I share my thinking in this week’s podcast.

What are your thoughts on this whole vision/mission conundrum?

Are you awesome or just cool?

awesome-takes-practiceI have this quote framed. It sits in a spot where I see it all the time. Namely, above my kitchen sink. (When will dishes learn to wash themselves?!)

It’s my way of reminding myself to bring my A game. To always push myself to do my best. To not take anything for granted. I have loved this quote for a long time. And I’ve loved the word awesome for a long time.

So imagine how royally my bubble was burst when I got a nasty-gram from a reader of The Claxonette because of my use of the word ‘awesome’. I was momentarily demoralized. I share the deets in the podcast below–the good, the bad, and the sniffly email to my mum.

Awesome is now purposefully part of my personal lexicon. You can create your very own lexicon–with or without the word ‘awesome’–by downloading this freebie.

You’re not just cool. You’re awesome!

Words that make you look dumb: alot

AlotNoALotWhether a word is “good” or not is largely a matter of opinion. For instance, I think ‘awesome’ is awesome and others beg to differ. Some people and organizations (cough, Microsoft, cough) love acronyms while others take umbrage with them.

But there is one word that is categorically a bad word–alot.

Want to know why it’s villainous? Because it makes you look dumb. Because it doesn’t exist! Nope, sure doesn’t. All is explained in this wee podcast.

Sure, when you say “alot”, no one knows you’ve mushed two words together. But you know whether, in your mind’s eye, you’re saying a non-word. For shame!

Absolutely, positively don’t write it. Ever. Please. Not even to be funny, cute or clever. Use a hashtag instead. #CuzNothingSaysClevahLikeAHashtag

**You can listen to podcasts on words like joy, gratitude, disappointment and funsies in the Language Lab Library.**

Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?