Solid Business Writing Lessons From Ice Road Truckers

by Cathy Miller on April 9, 2012

in Business Communication

 

Have you seen the History channel’s series, Ice Road Truckers?

I didn’t know what it was until a client mentioned it.

Ice Road Truckers is a TV series about the perils of big-rig truckers who haul loads across dangerous frozen lakes and rivers of Canada and Alaska.

It’s a wild ride.

In the strange way my mind works, the series inspired lessons you can use in your business writing.

Lesson #1 – Drive Outside Your Comfort Zone

Taking a different route

My main writing niche is healthcare-related.

The client who introduced me to Ice Road Truckers moved from a healthcare organization to a logistics service provider.

They specialize in providing the services required for moving goods throughout the global supply chain.

The client asked me to write for her logistics management company.

  • It was totally out of my element
  • I knew nothing about logistics and supply chains
  • It has been a great ride

I am learning something new every day and it is fascinating.

Taking a different route sharpens your business writing.

Moving into new territory

In one of the episodes I watched, a female driver moved from New York to Alaska.

  • She wanted to be an ice road trucker
  • She did city driving in New York
  • She felt she could handle anything Alaska threw at her

Boy, were her eyes opened.

Staying inside your comfort zone lulls you into complacency about what’s ahead.

Moving into new territory wakes up your business writing.

Lesson #2 – Taking Skills for Granted Can Kill You

Many of the truckers on the show have years of experience.

The smart ones know not to take their skills for granted.

The greatest gift for business writing is learning new things. Experience is wonderful, but we can grow too comfortable in the knowledge.

It’s like that ratty, old bathrobe – it feels good to wrap yourself in it, but sometimes your psyche needs a new silk wrap.

Combining skills with something new keeps business writing alive.

Lesson # 3 – It’s About the Journey

Hauling goods from Point A to Point B seems simple enough.

Ice road truckers understand –

  • It’s not about the destination
  • It’s about the journey

Business writing sells – both internally and to our clients.

At times , we focus on the destination and miss the journey.

Consider the simple email message notifying participants about a meeting. Your end result (destination) is having the meeting.

  • You schedule a time
  • You reserve a room
  • You notify participants

If you remember that business writing is selling, you focus on the invitation (the journey) instead of simply having a meeting (the destination).

We are planning a meeting about the launch of our new product. We appreciate your efforts in helping us get to this point and think your input on this final phase would be extremely helpful.

We reserved Conference Room A for Monday, April 16, 2012 from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM. Please let us know your availability.

Same destination – having the meeting.

But, by focusing on the journey, you might have fewer mishaps along the way, and you may even enjoy the ride.

Driving it Home

Whether you are a professional writer or a business owner who does your own writing, creativity is right around the corner.

  1. Go outside your comfort zone to find it
  2. Enhance the skills you have
  3. Enjoy the ride

What are your road markers for successful business writing?

=====================

Helping you Keep it simple, clear & uniquely yours – contact me for help with your business writing needs.

=====================

Photo Credit: U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management

 

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Wayman April 9, 2012 at 8:28 am

Cathy, I learned about those ice haulers from some novel or other… truly horrifying and must be one of the most exciting kinds of driving there is… love the way you move from that into getting out of our ruts! Nicely done.
Anne Wayman recently posted..Freelance Writing – How To Break InMy Profile

Reply

Cathy April 9, 2012 at 9:02 am

Thanks, Anne. I found myself tensing with the drivers while they pitched and bounced across the ice – not unlike some of our freelance experiences, eh? :-D

Reply

Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. April 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I learned how to drive on a frozen lake. And, it was not the route- but the tenuous nature of the “road”, the inability to stop on a dime- that stuck with me.
Yet, with folks driving on road in America, they feel secure. Until they recognize that the roads were long overdue for repaving, the bridges are unsound, maintenance to remove potholes and jagged debris (that can shear your tires) is no longer being performed.
So, every day is a new journey. Just like every business day. Grow and learn.
Great post, Cathy.
Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. recently posted..Let all who are hungry come and eatMy Profile

Reply

Cathy April 9, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Thanks for bringing a different perspective, Roy. We do get complacent with our everyday routine and that can be a dangerous thing – metaphorically and literally. :-)

Reply

Sharon Hurley Hall April 9, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I love the way you find lessons in everything, Cathy. I’ve never seen Ice Road Truckers, but I can relate to the messages you share. :)
Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted..My Blogging Adventures 2012My Profile

Reply

Keri April 9, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Cathy,

Great way of connecting your topic and purpose!

I’m not one for the Ice Road Truckers, but my husband used to work in transportation, and he thinks it’s pretty groovy, so I knew of it.

Speaks to me:

“At times , we focus on the destination and miss the journey.”

Must remember that one.

Thanks for sharing your insight,

~Keri
Keri recently posted..Facebook Timeline For Page Owners Working With An AdminMy Profile

Reply

Wade Finnegan April 9, 2012 at 10:05 pm

I have watched IRT a few times and I always think about advice I received from my golf coach, “expect the unexpected.” It wasn’t his original thought, but the idea that nothing is automatic is correct thinking. Once we become complacent we’re in trouble.

Reply

Cathy April 10, 2012 at 5:29 am

Thanks, Sharon. I’ve only seen one show plus part of another on YouTube. Research for my new assignment. :-) Glad you could see through the ice. :-D

Wade-good advice, no matter its origin :-) Thanks for stopping by.

Reply

Cathy April 10, 2012 at 5:32 am

Hi Keri-sorry I had to rescue you from the Spam folder. :-( I agree, the journey is the best part so we ought to enjoy the ride. :-)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Keri.

Reply

Patricia O'Flynn April 10, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Great blog article. I have been going outside my comfort zone but I need to enjoy it more!
Patricia O’Flynn recently posted..Hello world!My Profile

Reply

Cathy April 11, 2012 at 6:08 am

Thanks, Patricia. I agree, it’s definitely more fun when you enjoy the ride. :-)

Thanks for stopping by.

Reply

Gustavo April 11, 2012 at 10:33 am

Loved it, Cathy! I am not fond to TV but this series I will watch, to know better. Also, you have just given my the cue I needed to solve something. I always wanted to write about orchids. Let’s see what happens.

Reply

Jayne Kopp April 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Hi Cathy, it’s funny where you can find inspiration isn’t it?

I totally am all over this post. I’ve started stepping outside my comfort zone again lately… used to… then started getting too comfy and taking things for granted. I think that to be honest the only way you get something new in life is to do something new… and sometimes that is uncomfortable. Success is not convenient or comfy no matter what we’re applying that statement to.

Great read!

Jayne
Jayne Kopp recently posted..Do You Follow Your Heart or Worry About What Others Think Instead?My Profile

Reply

Cathy April 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I watched one of the 1st shows of the series on YouTube. I have yet to see the show on TV.

Can’t wait to see how this inspired orchids. Come back and leave us a link, Gustavo. :-)

Thanks for stopping by.

Reply

Cathy April 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Jayne – isn’t that the truth? My mind works in very strange ways. :-)

And I couldn’t agree with you more about stepping outside your comfort zone. It inspires great things.

Thanks for stopping by, Jayne, and sharing your story.

Reply

Brandi April 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Such a great reminder to step our toes in the cold water every now and again. I’m noticing that the older you get the easier it is to want to hibernate and take less chances. But life is all about risks and without them we won’t get any farther than our front door. Thanks for the reminder!

Reply

Cathy April 12, 2012 at 4:48 am

Hi Brandi. You are welcome, but maybe it’s me, but I’ve been taking more risks (it seems) since I got older. Hmmm :-)

Reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: