What’s Your PENGUINscore?

It’s been over 12 years since I first witnessed the birth of a baby. I’ve been present at two more births since then, but I have to say that the first is the one that really sticks with me.

The hours of pacing up and down the hallways with my wife Linda; the sudden rush of activity and people as the moment grew near; the first thought that entered my mind as I watched my son Evan being born (which as I recall was something to the effect of, “If this approach to getting a baby out of a woman’s body is the one that was finally chosen, I hate to think what other options were tossed out as ‘unworkable.'”).

I also remember the nurse calculating Evan’s APGAR score. APGAR is a standard applied around the world, and it uses five critical variables — Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity and Respiration (each one corresponding to a letter in the last name of Virginia Apgar, the doctor who invented the concept) — to assess the general physical condition of a newborn baby.

Interestingly, and as pointed out in Seth Godin’s new book, The Big Moo, although the APGAR test is credited with having saved thousands of lives in the 50+ years since its inception, it’s low cost, risk free and simple to administer.

And so I thought to myself, now that we’ve made a significant dent in infant mortality, what other world problems could be solved with an equally elegant solution? The answer hit me like a Power Point slide to the back of the head: Boring Business Communications.

Boring newsletters, boring presentations, mundane, run-of-the-mill, boring e-mails — all the stuff we’ve come to tolerate and expect from business messages. Somewhere along the line it seems, somebody convinced us that this is the way it’s supposed to be, and we’ve bought into it ever since.

We don’t sit still for this in our personal lives, but hang a tie around our necks and stick a briefcase in our hands and we accept the “fact” that professional must equal dull.

But here’s the problem. If you can’t hold people’s attention, if you can’t deliver your message — whether spoken or written — in a way that’s interesting and memorable, it’s going to come crashing to a halt right there. Nobody’s going to remember it or think about it or share it with others, all of which adds up to your phone not ringing. Which is why I came up with the PENGUINscore™. Seven letters (P-E-N-G-U-I-N) that do for business communications what APGAR does for newborn babies (and with a lot less pushing).

Each letter stands for a critical variable that needs to be present in everything you say or write if you want your audience to hear it, understand it and share it with others.

It’s so important in fact, that I gave it its own web site (www.PENGUIN score.com). Follow this link to read about it and to begin scoring your business communications right now. Your colleagues, clients and customers will thank you.

So, what’s your PENGUINscore?

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