Writing for the Web: 7 Do’s and Don’ts I Learned

I’ve been writing blog posts for three months now. And it’s been an interesting (and educational) experience. Writing for the web is a very different skillset and experience than writing for another medium. And so, I think now may be a good time for me share some very basic lessons I’ve recently learned.

Lessons on Writing for the Web

Lesson #1: Keep humor simple.

I’ve found that humor is difficult for readers “to get” when it’s part of an email or blog post. I think this has a lot to do with how body language and our voice inflections impact or “set-up” the punch line. A good rule of thumb is to keep the humor simple and light. You can’t go wrong that way.

Lesson #2: Be nice.

I’ve found people are turned off by (and tune-out) negative attacks on anyone or anything. After all, what makes anyone think that someone is just dying to spend their free time reading Debbie Downer web posts? News flash: They aren’t.

Lesson #3: Keep your language clean.

I try to stay away from using four-letter word bombs in my writing. It’s been said, and I believe, that it takes more creativity and shows a greater level of intelligence to convey your thoughts or ideas without the use of any four-letter word bombs. Think about it the next time you go into pre-launch mode.

Lesson #4: Make your reader the top priority.

When writing for the web, remember that you already know the subject matter you are writing about. You’re writing because you believe there is value to be gained by sharing this knowledge with others. So, who are you writing for? It’s the reader. Keep that in mind the next time you’re creating an email or post.

Lesson #5: Avoid hot-button issues.

One thing I encourage everyone to stay away from is editorializing about controversial subjects like politics and religion. Why? Because 50% of your reading audience will agree with your point of view and the other 50% are going to think you are a f#@%ing Moron. (I think I may have found an exception to Lesson #3 above).

Lesson #6: Keep the personal personal.

If you like to share explicit pictures, jokes etc. on the web, I would encourage you to be selective and discreet with your postings. Know your audience before you press the PUBLISH key, and ask yourself the following question pre-launch: “Do I really want this person or group of people viewing the post?”

Lesson #7: A Golden Rule for web posting.

I’ve saved what I believe to be a Golden Rule for web posting for last: Everything posted by you or about you on the web is like a bad tattoo … it’s permanent!

You may be thinking that this isn’t fair. I would agree. However, the reality is an innocent mistake or momentary lapse in judgment could have a long-term negative influence on key life decisions, such as applying for college, getting a job, a car loan, a mortgage etc.

Follow these seven lessons when you’re writing for the web, and avoid making some of the mistakes that many others are regretting.

Will Power: The Key to Self Determination

The human body is a highly complex and amazing piece of machinery that is seldom exercised to its fullest capacity. Additionally, the human body has a unique ability to transform itself, at any age. The secret to harnessing this awesomeness? Will power. And by that, I mean my friend, Will Mowrey, and his power principles. Let me explain.

The Story of Will Mowrey

Will Mowrey, one of my band of brothers, is truly an elite athlete -and an inspiration to us all, as he nears double nickels.  Here’s a little background on Will.

At 18, Will was competing as a power lifter on a national level. At his peak performance, he was 5’10,” weighed 258 lbs. and could max bench 500 lbs., squat 700 lbs., and dead-lift 600 lbs. As an aside, Will used to rep 225 lbs. over 30 times. To put that into perspective, Kansas State’s Alex Barnes set a new record of 34 reps at 225 lbs at the 2019 NFL combine. These numbers alone are enough to put Will in a very select athletic category but it gets better.

In 2004, at age 40, Will decided that he wanted to lose weight and transform his body from a physical strength machine to an aerobically-conditioned machine. So he took up jogging, which morphed into cycling after he broke his ankle.

Will’s first foray into cycling was on an old, ill-fitted Walmart mountain bike. His early rides were only 10+ miles, and required multiple stops. But this didn’t deter Will in the least. As his passion for cycling grew, his mileage and speeds increased, along with a desire for better technology (which resulted in a numerous bike upgrades).

Fast forward to 2019 … on a recent solo ride, a 178 lb. Will rode his Tour de France-style road-racing bike 82 miles in just over four hours. For the last six years, he has averaged 10,000 miles per year (or 60,000 total miles), with approximately 700,000 feet of climbing, per year. That’s the equivalent of riding up Mount Everest (elevation 29,035 feet) 24 times in one year.

Will rides, on average, 300 days a year and typically logs 220+ miles per week. All of this data has been logged and can be found on a special cycling software program, Strava. The facts are in: Will’s athletic achievements put him in an elite “freak” athlete category by any measurement criteria.

Will Power (and Will’s Power)

So how does Will maintain an elite-level cycling performance regimen in his 50’s? What lessons can others learn from him and apply in their own lives?

Will adheres to a very strict set of principles; which he uses to guide his life both on and off the bike.

Will’s P-O-W-E-R principles include:

Plan:  to define a way or approach to accomplish a goal(s).

Obsess:  to be single-minded in focus or purpose.

Will:  to impose your desires over an action or emotion.

Execute:  to perform a task or action to the best of your ability.

Resilient:  to adjust easily to difficulties or change.

Finding Your Own Will Power

I started this blog by saying the human body is an amazing and complex piece of machinery and has a unique ability to transform itself, at any age. It is my hope that this blog post both inspires you and motivates you to push yourself well-beyond your comfort zone, regardless of the endeavor, as my good friend Will Mowrey has demonstrated in his latest mastery of cycling.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with a quote credited to Darwin P. Kingsley as it relates to will power …”You have powers you never dreamed of. You can do things you never thought you could do. There are no limitations in what you can do, except the limitations of your own mind.”

Goal Setting & Attainment: 5 Secrets to Success

If you’re a competitive or professional athlete, you probably know a lot about goal setting (and achieving those goals). But if you’re not, I am going to share the life lessons I learned from a tremendous experience and privilege I had in my youth that set me on a path to successful goal setting and attainment.

I had the good fortune to participate in the Cumberland Valley High School football program under legendary head football coach Harry C. Chapman III. In the 1970’s and 80’s, Coach Chapman’s football program had an off-season workout component that would rival most 2019 major college football off-season conditioning programs.

The start of summer takes me back in time to the days spent taking part in Coach Chapman’s summer workout sessions with teammates in the CV gym and at the track.  And when I go back in time, I hear the same voice in my head that I heard 40 years ago, calling out his go-to words of encouragement…Fellas, get your weights!

The following quote, credited to former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Tom Landry, provides readers with insight into Coach Chapman’s off-season program philosophy “… I believe in getting a team prepared so it knows it will have the necessary confidence when it steps on the field and be prepared to play a good game.” Coach Chapman’s off-season program emphasized the five following key goal-setting principles. Each one includes a “key takeaway” that you can use in your next goal setting exercise, whether that’s related to sports, business, a fight against cancer … or anything else in life.


Principal #1: Define Both Team and Individual Goals

Coach Chapman emphasized a team-first mentality, and the importance of individuals maximizing their athletic abilities for the betterment of the team. He would sit down with each player at the end of the school year and set specific strength, agility and conditioning exercise goals for their summer workout program.

Key takeaway #1: Have anyone responsible for achieving the desired goals participate in an exercise that sets both team and individual goals. This ensures buy-in, personal responsibility and accountability by all participants.


You can’t hit a target you cannot see, and you cannot see a target you do not have.” – a Zig Ziglar favorite quote of close high school friend and teammate #85 Edward “Spike” Zionkofski

__________________________


Principal #2: Maintain Consistency and Dedication to Goals

Coach Chapman held morning and evening workout sessions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the summer. It was understood that players would attend one session a day. And the sessions weren’t easy: They began with a weight-lifting period–players recorded the weight and reps attempted for each exercise–followed by a circuit of timed agility exercise stations set up in the gymnasium. After the agility circuit, Coach Chapman would take the players to the track for stretching and a recorded distance and/or a speed workout.

Key takeaway #2: Have a regular routine that everyone follows. This ensures a consistent level of effort is directed toward achieving their goals over an extended period.


There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” – Derek Jeter

__________________________


Principal #3: Establish Benchmark Testing and Reporting Procedures

Coach Chapman would test and record key exercises (e.g., half squats, single and five rep bench, 40 yard dash, mile run etc.) for all players throughout the summer. To motivate and inspire players, he would post charts on the walls listing all players and their personal best for each recorded exercise. He also recorded new personal bests in his highly-sought-after “blue ink.” These methods encouraged players to continually strive to receive “blue ink” and a “good effort” acknowledgement from Coach Chapman.

Key takeaway #3: Have a method of regularly monitoring and tracking your progress. This ensures that you are taking the right steps to achieve your goals. If you determine you are not on the right track, you can modify your strategy or plan to ensure you achieve the desired results.


“When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge.” – Terry Bradshaw

__________________________


Principal #4: Create a Culture That Fosters Competition and Teamwork

Coach Chapman used to get really fired up when he was testing/recording players, especially when a player was attempting a new personal best. His enthusiasm was contagious, and often resulted in a crowd of teammates gathering around to encourage the player to succeed. Call it motivation, fear of embarrassment, or a sense of pride, but you always felt compelled to give it your all; and more importantly, to not let your teammates down.

Key takeaway #4: Establish a positive and competitive environment that fosters peak individual performance and team unity. This ensures a “team first” mindset and mentality for any team, group or organization


“You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.” – Michael Jordan

__________________________


Principal #5: Persevere, Persevere, Persevere

Coach Chapman’s football program emphasized the importance of perseverance in all activities, both on the football field and in the classroom. This phrasing–along with persistence, mental toughness, hard work and overcoming adversity–were commonly-repeated themes that you heard when you were in the presence of Coach Chapman.

Key takeaway #5: Have the physical and mental toughness, as well as intestinal fortitude, to overcome the challenges that occur in football, the classroom or in life. In summary, I have found that very little is given to us in life, and most successes are the result of hard work, persistence and perseverance.


“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”- John Wooden

__________________________


Coach Harry C. Chapman III’s goal-setting principles and coaching philosophy has had a positive impact throughout my life and for that I am truly grateful. I believe that Coach Chapman’s goal setting principles can be used by anyone to help ensure that they not only meet–but exceed–their desired life goals.


A special thanks to my close grade school friends and teammates #13 Harry C. “Four” Chapman IV and #72 Brian “Bull” Bullock for their contributions to the creation of this blog.

Coach Chapman - Goal Setting
Harry C. Chapman III
Former Head Football Coach
Cumberland Valley High School

I would also like to acknowledge the countless hours the early 1980’s CV Football Coaching Staff — Coach Harry Chapman, Coach Butch Bricker, Coach Bob Crobak, Coach Ron Audo, Coach Joe Correal, Coach Tom Uhrich and Coach Jim Hess — invested in teaching young men how to compete and conduct themselves both on and off the football field.

Thank You Coach Chapman!
#82 Frank Antonicelli

Face Your Fears. Know Your Enemy.

Fear is a sneaky thing that shows up at our doorstep when we least expect it. Fear can paralyze us from doing the things we really need to do – the things we MUST do. We don’t often think of fear as a good thing, but when we shift our thinking around fear, we can not only face it, but conquer it. I saw this firsthand during multiple cancer battles from close family members, but I see it every day of my life. Small fears, big fears…they’re all real fears we must deal with.

Here are a few things that help:

  1. Name it.  When you can name your fear and recognize it, you gain a certain level of power over it. It’s still scary and hard, but it’s known. Like the name of my book, “Know Your Enemy,” once you know what you’re up against, you can approach it better.
  2. Look Big Picture. So much of our fear is based on the immediate feeling or emotion, but facing something hard and scary may have long-term benefits that we can’t see right now. Yes, it may be hard in the moment, but the benefits far outweigh the fear. When we shift our perspective to view the bigger picture, we can face that hard circumstance just a little easier. 
  3. Find your people. If you’re up against something really scary and hard (like cancer), go find your people. Don’t go at this scary thing alone. You don’t have to. And, it’s a whole lot easier when you have people by your side helping you face that fear.
  4. Educate yourself. Fear has this way of making us think we have to do it all by ourselves and that we can’t seek out help. But, the more educated and armed we are, the smarter we will be at fighting a hard battle. Find those experts who can help you fight your cancer battle. Find those people who can help with day-to-day things. Read those books and educate yourself so that you truly know how to fight your enemy. Knowledge is power and this power helps you fight your fears with confidence.  
  5. Share your story.  Friends, there is power in sharing your story. Facing hard times and fearful situations are not in vain. Your story and struggle has purpose and you can help encourage others who are going through a similar struggle simply by sharing your story. 

We often don’t get to choose when we deal with our fears, but the more I’m ready to face them, the better I get when they creep on up. We have the power to face hard things. YOU have the power to face hard things. May we face one more fear today than we did yesterday!