Profanity in Business Blogging

From my contact form:

Can’t believe that Michael Port suggested this as a good example of a blog in his book Book Yourself Solid. The foul language is something I’d hear from a prepubescent
kid and quite frankly made me question Michael’s professional integrity
and it certainly ruined his image in my mind… I guess his former
career as an actor is showing.

My response:

I do hope you’ll continue to pay attention to Michael’s work even if you don’t enjoy mine. His books and coaching and work are very, very useful.

As much as people take issue with dirty language in a business blogging context, I take further issue with the notion that I don’t realize the impact of the language that I use. Words are weapons, words are liniments. And sometimes, foul language is the only appropriate way to extract what is in my heart, head or gut onto the printed page. Sure, if I was not working in a business built on self-expression for a company whose products provide millions the change to express themselves, I’d feel differently. If I was working in finance or another tightly regulated industry, I’d clam up. There’s tons of things that I can’t write about each day because I work in a technology company with many competitors. But writing a post like Five Ways You’ll Fuck Up 2009 is not the same as say ‘mess up’ or ‘screw up’ or Five Ways You’ll Have a Sad Panda Year. The fricatives and the plosives are needed to express the energy.

I mean what I say and I say what I mean. It is part of my ‘brand’ but also inherently me. If you don’t like it that is fine: I don’t want your business. I’ve worked for uptight people that hide behind jargon and it is tiring. A well-placed F-bomb is sometimes exactly what is called for – though I’d never drop the JFC in any business meeting.

I only want to work for fun people.

But don’t think that Michael Port being an actor makes him less than worthy – it is a fundamental reason for his success and his expert skill in crafting experiences that have enchanted entrepreneurs all over the world. ‘An actor’ isn’t an insult – though you seem to make it so. If dirty language on one of the dozens of sites he mentions throughout the book tarnishes your ‘image’ of him – then you need to re-think how you build up these images and pedastals.

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About Andy Wibbels

Andy is an award-winning blogger and author of the book Blogwild! A Guide for Small Business Blogging. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Wired, Business Week, Forbes, and other national and international media. He was worked at several San Francisco startups including Get Satisfaction, SAY Media, InMobi, Keas, and Mindjet. Currently, Andy is Director of Marketing at Lucidworks. Tw · Fb · G+ · Li

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