⚙️ Ops Playbook #38

Write like an Amazonian, the power of copywork, and a killer ChatGPT prompt.

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Read Time: 9.6 Minutes

Hi Operators ⚙️

Today, we’re getting a little meta with it. 

(No, we’re not going all-in on VR real estate - I’m not talking about that Meta)

We’re writing about writing. 

It’s arguably the most important skill in business. Improve at writing and you improve at communicating with your team, building bulletproof strategy, and sharing your mission. 

We should all probably get good at it.

Lucky for you, we did all the work of finding out how.

⚙️ Here’s what we got going on today:

  • Write Like an Amazonian → Jeff Bezos sent over some writing tips for you

  • Copywork Works → A simple morning practice to write like your favorite author

  • A ChatGPT Prompt for Killer Social Posts → ChatGPT doesn’t always make a great writer, but it is a good interviewer

Let’s dive in.

(P.S Anything you want us to cover in a future edition? Reply to this email or hit me up at [email protected]. )

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5 Operator’s Library Links

I. Write Like An Amazonian

Insight from First Principles

Jeff Bezos LOVES a “crisp” document.

Powerpoints are banned. Every meeting at Amazon starts with a silent reading of a detailed 6-page memo prepared by the meeting organizer.

Need to have a meeting? You need to have that document first. 

Want funding for a project? Better have a document ready.

If it’s not already obvious, writing is an important skill if you want to succeed at Amazon. 

So, how does a company that’s so serious about effective writing teach its employees to write?

Their rules can be summarized in four principles:

  1. Use less than 30 words per sentence: Eliminate “weasel words” and write simply (s/o Paul Graham). Ex. “Due to the fact,” should be, “because.”

  2. Replace adjectives and adverbs with data: Instead of “increased significantly,” say, “increased by 40%.”

  3. Use the “so what?” test: When editing, make sure there is a clear “why” for everything you’ve written. Why is it important for the reader to understand? What action is needed?

  4. Avoid jargon: Stay away from acronyms. Speak in clear, concise language that even a newcomer could understand.

Follow those guidelines, and you’ll finally be ready to send that email to Jeff Bezos.

(Let me know if you get through to him, I’ve been trying to pitch him on getting on the next Blue Origin mission)

II. Copywork Works

Insight from Sam Parr

Good writing comes from practice. Just like with music, you don’t have to practice by writing your own pieces. 

You can get better by rehearsing the works of the greats.

This is exactly what “copywork” is - copying someone else’s writing (by hand!) to understand their syntax and writing patterns better.

Having tried this method, I can tell you that it works. It especially helps as a morning exercise to get the juices flowing before sending off emails.

But don’t just take it from me…

  • Thomas Jefferson would handcopy passages from The Odyssey.

  • Jack London practiced copywork with the works of Rudyard Kipling

  • Hunter S. Thompson rewrote every word of The Great Gatsby by hand

If it’s good enough for those guys, it should work for us too.

III. A ChatGPT Prompt for Killer Social Posts

Insight from Write With AI

This is one of the best AI-assisted writing workflows we’ve come across.

A lot of times, it’s difficult to get a good social post out of ChatGPT. 

It ends up being too corny, too wordy, or both.

We FINALLY came across a method that seems to work well for this, so we thought we’d share it with you.

All you need to start is a viral tweet or LinkedIn post that you’d like to use as a template.

We’re going to ask ChatGPT to rhetorically analyze the post and create a list of questions for us to answer.

Our answers to those questions will give ChatGPT the information it needs to build out a social post in the exact format that we want.

Want to see it in action? Here’s an example prompt that you can copy/paste to kick off the process:

Hey ChatGPT, I am going to give you a text and I want you to analyze the text and then return a list of questions that someone can answer to create their own post that follows the same rhetorical structure of the original text.

All that’s left to do is give ChatGPT a social post that you want to use as a template.

Once you answer the questions, ChatGPT will do the rest.

We were surprised at the quality of the output. Try it out for yourself and let us know how it works for you!

Something Fun

Even after all the tips, writing can be tough…

Last Word 👋 
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Rameel from The Bottleneck team

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