If this edition of inwords was forwarded to you get your very own free copy here.
You can also read this edition
(Season 2, Edition 5) in your browser.
Portrait of a lady with a fishbowl by Greek portrait painter, Gerasimos Pitsamanos (1787-1825),
who looks like he could easily have been Prince's great-great-grandfather.
She looks like she's signalling for you to call her if you're in the market for cheap curtain accessories.
But this edition of inwords is about the fish.

May Observations by

Jenny Offill ❡
Carl Jung ❡
Miguel de Unamuno ❡
Henry David Thoreau ❡
Christopher Vogler ❡
T.S. Eliot ❡
❡ Virginia Woolf
❡ Neil Gaiman
❡ Wade Davis
❡ Arundhati Roy
❡ Umberto Eco
❡ Alan Watts
Thursday, May 12, 2022, Casa McLeod, Wallace, Nova Scotia
  • The May 21st weekend is the annual running of Nova Scotia's Blue Nose Marathon. Its mascot's monstrous blue schnozz is one of the reasons Madagascar's Helmet Vanga made the cut as avian champion of the Innocent Archetype.
  • TL;DR You don't have the attention span of a goldfish.

Hei and welcome Emily, Kristen, Maiuran and Viviane!

inwords 9: The Discipline Edition

[6 minute read]

Funny. Not funny.

What do you call a parrot wearing a raincoat?

The excuse you've been using, like everyone else, that your attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish, is an urban legend that originated with a 2015 Microsoft Canada report. The story got spun by names as trusted as The Guardian and The New York Times.

The BBC's Simon Maybin busted the myth two years later but it has hung around, not — I think — because we've become less able to pay attention but because the demands on our attention are greater, and blaming little orange fish is a convenient alternative to culturing more discipline, taking responsibility for how we consume as readers; and as brands, being more rigorous with working authenticity (that glue that attracts and holds attention) into our stories.

Six years later, in 2021, Jacksonville's First Coast News was still defending the innocent little carp's bad wrap. (You can watch the FCN story in case you need to take a break from this one and juggle a couple of other things at the same time.)

In the 48 seconds it should have taken you to read those first four short paragraphs, one of your devices, kids or pets has probably begun whimpering for you. Bear with me though please (unless your demanding pet happens to be a bear), this month's inwords foreword might refocus your reading discipline. And for you archetypewriters, I hope it reinforces the effort you put into writing with your newly-discovered brand voice authenticity.

Need to know:

Sagacity is the quality of being sage, wise, or able to make good decisions; the quality of being perceptive, astute or insightful. — Wiktionary
It is not the city where Gandalf was born.
— Ed.

In The Serendipity Mindset, author Christian Busch, co-founder of Leaders on Purpose writes,

"While a particular chance encounter is an event, serendipity is a process. Surprise and chance are important — but only as a first step. The essential second step comes from being able to understand and leverage the unexpected observation.

We need to see links or bridges where others see gaps. And it often takes sagacity — being able to filter and see the value — and the tenacity to see it through."

Sagacity's suburb, tenacity (not the birthplace of Bo Derek), is my segue to this month's inwords keyword; discipline.

I have an amazing job. People pay me to tell stories about amazing products and services from all over the world. When I'm not doing that I get to read, distill, curate and write — there and here — about the legends and myth that have underwritten story since the very first grandfather took a deep breath, pinching the bridge of his nose like a monk invoking an ancient mantra, and began the fabled bedtime ritual, "Once upon a time…"

Writing inwords — we're now at episode 9 — scares the living shit out of me every month. I take an off-the-cuff word like discipline and try to attach 12 authentic, story-inspiring observations to it.👇 Sometimes it seems like they're itching to school themselves into the skeleton of a story without my help. Other times I'm subbing Umberto Eco for Dr. Seuss or Krista Tippett. (Scroll down to your archetype to visit your discipline cue for May — they're in Hero's Journey, not alphabetical, order.)

And then I write this foreword to try to see if it all makes sense and adds value to this How to Brand You project. Sometimes it's a recipe. Other times it's just bubble and squeak.

I haven't quite figured out what the tartan of 12 brand archetypes + 12 IUCN at-risk bird species + the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals looks like, but rest assured, I will be a true Scotsman about it when the kilt is complete. Hopefully for me it'll be summer when that happens. Hopefully for you there won't be an updraft.

I've accepted that getting there is going to be messy. Like first drafts and finger-painting.

When I took over How to Brand You there were almost 800 subscribers to this email, many of whom had never confirmed their interest. There are just shy of 400 of you stalwart souls now and at inwords' average open rate of about 12% that means I spend one day each month (not counting the reading) writing and curating a newsletter that 50 people open. You matter.

There are no social media tracking pixels or creepy metrics so I don't know which parts grab you but the fact that almost no one has unsubscribed has kept me going. Thanks for being one of them.

What else?

  1. Had I not committed to write and send inwords every month there's a good chance I would have never come this close to what's possible for How to Brand You. Discipline is easier when it's underscored and held to account by a worthwhile promise.
  2. I've listened to plenty of Omer Khan's 300 SaaS podcasts (SaaS = Software as a Service). At the end of every episode, when he asks his guests for one attribute or characteristic of a successful founder, more often than not, they answer with grit, determination or discipline.
Those reminders, this inwords work and the replies I get from a few of you each month have been life-savers. Except for sitting in bitterly cold hockey rinks watching my son Matt play nets, I've never had this much fun, been this proud or maintained such determination.

"At a time when we think we have it all figured out, it can be humbling to be so vexed by a quandary surrounding a bird that has been tamed, used, and studied by humans for at least 3,000 years. Reflecting back on six decades in the sport and why that first resident of his makeshift loft always returned home, [Nick] Oud takes a less scientific approach. "It was just understood."
The Pigeon Puzzle by Trevor Popoff in The Walrus, December 2021

What do you call a parrot wearing a raincoat?
Polly unsaturated.
— Courtesy Deloraine, Tasmania's most sagacious sourdough bread baker

Thanks for reading.

Archetype Journey Icon 1 - The Innocent
The Innocent Archetype is proactively honest, transparent and wonder-ful.

Read the Innocent Archetype Brand Voice Brief

— on time

"And then it is another day and another and another, but I will not go on about this because no doubt you too have experienced time."
— Jenny Offill, Weather

Innocent SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being

SDG 3's aim is to "ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages" and its 13 targets range from Reducing Maternal Mortality to Fighting Communicable Diseases and Achieving Universal Healthcare.
Archetype Journey Icon 2 - The Everyperson
The Everyperson Archetype is inclusive, individual and the salt of the earth.
They can often be spotted wearing their striped socks inside out.

Read The Everyperson Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Andean Flamingo, Bolivia, Everyperson Archetype

— on the way

"[T]he way of nature will bring you quite naturally wherever you have to go."
Carl Jung (from Visions: Notes of the seminar given in 1930-1934, Vol. I)

Everyperson SDG 2: Zero Hunger

This Global Goal aims at eight targets to end world hunger; from ending malnutrition to maintaining the genetic diversity in foods.
Archetype Journey Icon 3 - The Hero
The Hero Archetype is as humble and vulnerable as it is valiant.

Read The Hero Archetype Brand Voice Brief

— on the impossible

"Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible."
— Miguel de Unamuno (1905 Spanish) (Wikipedia | Quote Investigator)

SDG 1: No Poverty

I matched SDG 1, No Poverty, with The Hero archetype because heroic is the level of effort it's going to take to achieve its seven targets.
Archetype Journey Icon 4 - The Caregiver
As gutsy as The Hero Archetype, The Caregiver Archetype embraces compassion and empathy.

Read The Caregiver Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Tibetan Bunting, Tibet, Caregiver Archetype

— again and over

​"As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives."
Henry David Thoreau

Caregiver Goal 5: Gender Equality

Thankfully the authors of SDG 5, Gender Equality, went beyond the token = symbol in its icon and tasked this goal with empowering all women and girls.
Archetype Journey Icon 5 - The Explorer
Explorer Archetype thinking is synonymous with bucking mainstream mores and myopic thinking — like an albatross and not all that unlike the Outlaw Archetype.

Read The Explorer Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Sooty Albatross, Antarctica, Explorer Archetype

— what stories want

"I have always suspected that stories are alive. They seem to be conscious and purposeful. Like living beings, stories have an agenda, something on their minds. They want something from you. They want to wake you up, to make you more conscious and more alive. They want to teach you a lesson disguised as entertainment. Under the guise of amusement, stories want to edify you, build up your character just a little by showing a moral situation, a struggle, and an outcome. They seek to change you in some small way, to make you just a bit more human by comparing your behavior to that of the characters."
— Christopher Vogler, The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers

Explorer Goal 15: Life on Land

The targets for SDG 15 aren't specifically about people, which I think is a nice change because, as a species we have been such selfish, destructive asses. Here are SDG 15's targets and the UN's suggestions for supporting it.
Archetype Journey Icon 6 - The Outlaw
Although The Outlaw Archetype is challenging, confronting and sometimes disruptive, it's inherently honourable.

Read The Outlaw Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Long-tailed Duck, Norway, Outlaw Archetype

— on fiddling

​"In the midst of what is going on now, it is hard, when you sit down at a desk, to feel that morning after morning spent fiddling with words and rhythms is a justified activity."
T.S. Eliot

Outlaw Goal 13: Climate Action

The map element in the icon for SDG 13, Climate Action, actually looks like another planet, which would be great because that would mean we could just carry on buying shit and throwing it away. Unfortunately, if you look at it in motion on its official SDG page, you'll see it's just a view of earth taken by a drone from above Santa's workshop.
Archetype Journey Icon 7 - The Lover
The Lover Archetype seeks union, is comfortable in surrender, is dedicated and powered by passion and tenderness.

Read The Lover Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Western Crowned Pigeon, Papua New Guinea, Lover Archetype

— on whether it matters

​"So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say."
— Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Lover Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities

The principle of SDG 10 is that "when every individual is self sufficient, the entire world prospers." This Global Goal has 10 targets that are "big picture" macro-level benchmarks. Even the action items take effort and guts and humility and passion: like the Lover Archetype.
Archetype Journey Icon 8 - The Creator
The Creator Archetype is imaginative, artistic and visionary.

It loathes inactivity, occasionally to the point of workaholism.

Read The Creator Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Mallefowl, Australia, Creator Archetype

— on knowing

​"I had typed the name Caroline, and it came out wrong. I looked at the word Coraline, and knew it was someone's name. I wanted to know what happened to her."
Neil Gaiman on Coraline
Happy 11th birthday Madden!

Creator Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Of all the SDGs, this one struck me as being uber-technical but when I listened to Greenlight Planet's Radhika Thakkar speak to James from the SDG Talks Podcast on October 8, 2021 about off-grid communities, individuals walking miles to charge their mobile phones, kids not having lights to study by — I got it.
GreenLight Planet's sun king website
The SDG 7 web page
Archetype Journey Icon 9 - The Ruler
The Ruler Archetype is challenged to temper ego with understanding, and to distinguish majesty from bravado.

Read The Ruler Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Snowy Owl, Canada, Ruler Archetype

— on conceit

​"The problem is not change. We have this conceit in the West that while we have been celebrating and developing technological wizardry, somehow the other peoples of the world have been static and intellectually idle. Nothing could be further from the truth."
— Wade Davis, The Wayfinders, Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World

Ruler Goal 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

Whenever I read about SDG 16's mission to, "Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels," I get a little overwhelmed.
We have been asleep at this planet's wheel for a long while.
Archetype Journey Icon 10 - The Magician
A Magician brand must strive to weave delight between the lines of its visionary and intuitive story. Its tendency toward arrogance — expectations of colleagues and customers to read its mind — risks distancing its worth from its audience.

Read The Magician Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Green Peafowl, Thailand, Magician Archetype

— on things to say

​"And the Air was full of Thoughts and Things to Say. But at times like these, only the Small Things are ever said. The Big Things lurk unsaid inside."
— Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things, 1997 Booker Prize Winner

Magician Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

If SDG 11 was simply Sustainable Communities, the cities that are the confluences of those communities would magically look after themselves. We have to think small, local, community to achieve the larger, global goals. Read the targets for SDG 11
Archetype Journey Icon 11 - The Sage
The Sage is forever seeking balance; it struggles with idealism and its inability to compromise. "Listen more attentively" is sage advice for this archetype.

Read The Sage Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Three-wattled Bellbird, Costa Rica, Sage Archetype

— on complex problems

"As the man said, for every complex problem there’s a simple solution, and it’s wrong."
— from Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco

Sage Goal 12: Responsible Consumption & Production

I aligned SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production, with The Sage archetype because responsible production requires tough choices and forward-thinking; two qualities that our dumb-assed decisions have been lacking. Here is SDG 12 in detail.
Archetype Journey Icon 12 - The Jester
The Jester Archetype lives for the experience; it is naturally compelling, entertaining and delightful, and is challenged by the tripartite trap of self-importance, disingenuity and indifference.

Read The Jester Archetype Brand Voice Brief
Black Crowned Crane, Tanzania, Jester Archetype

— on dancing

​"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance."
Alan Watts

Jester Goal 6: Clean Water & Sanitation

SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation is a tough Global Goal to write about but I refuse to give in to the thinking that my generation and the last few before it have screwed this completely. Here's the juice on SDG 6 from the Global Goals website.


Next month (June 2022): ecesis
Like more than 37,400 40,000 other species, Konos, our Pelican-in-Chief (a Dalmatian Pelican from Lake Prespa in Greece), and Jerry, our Chief Algorithm Officer (a Jerdon's Courser from Andhra Pradesh, India) are threatened with extinction and therefore difficult or impossible to find.

That's not the case with our 🍊 unsubscribe button, because unlike Konos and Jerry it's not the end of the world.

Read more about beautiful creatures like Konos and Jerry on the IUCN's Red List.