Say more with less

It doesn’t matter what kind of day I'm having. This image spreads an involuntary smile across my face every time I see it in my photo collection. 

You may have a completely different sense of humor, but hopefully you have something like this—a memory, a saying, a Key and Peele sketch—that when you remember it, you can’t help but laugh, even if you’re having a bad day.


I spotted this image on the wall of a brewery in Redmond, Oregon after my niece’s graduation a couple years ago.

There’s a story here.

Someone took out a pen and, after disregarding the impropriety of writing on public walls, scrawled this statement.

And of all the things they could write, they chose “Toy Story 2 Was Okay!”

This person took time out of their day to, not to extol the merits of Toy Story 2, but to say it was just okay. Exclamation!

But the story doesn’t end there.

Look closer. Someone else came along and scribbled out “2”. They saw the statement and it sparked a conviction. This person felt so strongly that they simply couldn’t pass by without adding a corrective measure. They even made an attempt to cross out "Story". But notice they didn’t cross out the entire statement, which leads me to think they’re not entirely anti-Toy Story. It’s just that in this person’s mind it was Toy Story, not the sequel, that was just okay.

I suspect I may have shed a number of readers by now, but if you’re still with me, let me explain why this statement inspires me to be a better communicator.

Four words and a number. That’s all took to hook me so much that I took out my phone and captured this image. So much that I laugh every time I see this image, and even took the time to write an entire post about this peculiar statement.

But isn’t that the point? Isn’t that how we hope people respond to the messages we send out into the world, or circulate within our company. Rather than deploying gaseous messaging that drifts past people, we want what we say to reach within people and resonate at the deepest possible level. We want them to stop and take a picture of it.

We have limited time, space, and opportunities to craft messages that resonate with our audience. Say something that moves us, not because it shocks us, that's too easy. Say something that delights us in some way. 

Imagine you only had four words and a number. What would you say? 

Communication matters. What we say, do, and make says something. Let’s try to craft messages that resonate with people, even if they’re having a bad day.

Andrew Robinson