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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The worst word in the world to ever, ever use. NEVER use this word.

Below is a letter from William Reese soliciting me for funds for Yale. It is basically a letter asking me for something.

But the attempt is flawed by the constant use of the word "I." If one is to be a merchant or a fund raiser, the use of this word almost always guarantees failure. If you want to sell anything to anyone avoiding this word is key. Very simply --- there never, never, never is an excuse to use the word "I" in a letter.

Selling is ALL about hearing what your client wants and fullfilling his wishes honestly and fairly. You should focus on thinking about what HE wants to hear.

The letter below DOES use a very effective word. That is the word "we." "We" brings your potential or actual client into your sphere for a sharred goal.

But this wonderful word "we" is only used once whereas the terrible word "I" is used EIGHT times.

The letter fails.

It follows:

Graham: Although I haven't heard back from you in regard to my solicitation of agift of $100,000 to the Yale Map Collection, I see by your blog that youreceived it. Your evident concerns are that I wanted you to be like me, andthe cost of educating your children. You may not have taken in my whole letter. I assume you have no moreinterest in being like me than I have in being like you. What we do shareis a debt to the Yale Library and its curators, in your case Alex Vietor inparticular. You mention this in several places in your blog, both in yourletter to Bruce McKinney ("I was taught for FOUR years at Yale to onlysettle for the best quality by the staff of the Yale libraries"), and morerecently in your handsome statement of your debt to Margit Kaye for actingas a mentor to you. As to the cost of educating your children, it had not occurred to me that aman who states he gives away two million dollars a year and plans to giveaway more, and who lives in a $65 million dollar house, would be constrainedin that regard. However, I'll propose this: If you make the contributionto Yale, I'll pay for up to a total of ten courses at the Rare Book Schoolfor any of your children who want to attend. Some of your staff, I believe,have attended it and found the courses instructive. Since several of yourchildren now work with you in your business, they might find it useful. Sincerely, Bill Reese WSR:lw William Reese CompanyRare Books & ManuscriptsABAA - ILAB409 Temple StreetNew Haven, CT 06511 USAphone: 203-789-8081 fax: 203-865-7653www.reeseco.com

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