Why Business Leaders Are Emphasizing Writing Skills (Inc.)

With the rise of texting, PowerPointing and tweeting, writing appears to be on the wane. Not everyone, however, sees this trend as inevitable. “Even as computers make it ever easier to use fewer actions — and words — to accomplish our everyday business, a couple of high-powered business leaders are pushing back, insisting employees and job candidates flex their atrophying writing muscles,” Inc. reports.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, is one. He starts his senior executive meetings by handing out six pages of printed memos that the team reads in silence for 30 minutes. Having his staff write those memos is even more critical to him. “There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking,” Bezos said.

Evernote CEO Phil Libin says that when he’s interviewing job candidates, he gives them a writing test. “Many people can pretend to be something they’re not in person, but very few people can do so in writing,” he said.

Comments

  1. Bob Delaney '55 says:

    A very good point especially with today’s emphisis on job potential – math, engineering and IT, etc there is much less time for liberal arts and its’ emphisis on writing and presentation.

  2. Barbara Raymond says:

    I can hold my own with hand writing as taught in the schools. I learned penmanship so many years ago that it might be beyond memory. And yes, hand written essays are usually better thought out than swiftly typed messages. I also learned that even people in their older years can successfully learn calligraphy. I enjoyed reading this article.

  3. Charlie Graham '59 says:

    I’m glad to hear that coherent writing is making a comeback. During my 25 years in international banking I had to send a lot of bright people who worked for me to night school classes in written composition (usually kicking and screaming). Their work with customers and business development was excellent, but within the bank their junior-high-school-quality memos and written presentations fatally undermined the results they were trying to get.
    Spoken presentation is important too, and I hope Bowdoin is giving it more emphasis than it did back in the 1990s when I was a club representative to the Alumni Council. Seniors who were at the top of their class and who had done some remarkable things during their junior years abroad would address us in what could best be described as “Valley Girl speak”. It was so bad that the Council finally voted unanimously to make Public Speaking a first-year requirement again, as it had been decades before. I wonder if it was it ever done?

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