Communicating Is King

Alfred E. Kahn, a Cornell University economist best known as the chief architect and promoter of deregulating the nation’s airlines, died Monday at his home in Ithaca, N.Y. He was 93.

I remember Mr. Kahn for his appearance on The MacNeil/Lehrer Report when he led the Civil Aeronautics Board under President Jimmy Carter. A staunch advocate of using everyday language in business writing, Mr. Kahn told the story of giving the following advice to his staff after reading one of their drafts. 

“Show this memo to your kids,” he said. “If they don’t laugh you out of the room, who wants kids like that?”  

Try to write, he told the staff in a memo, “in straight-forward quasi-conversational, humane prose — as though you were talking to or communicating with real people.”

Imagine. Communicating with real people. 

Keep one particular reader in mind when you are writing – not hundreds.

Just one.

– m

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