I love writing. Every morning, I sat down for a few minutes and write some nonsense blog post that you have the patience to read ;). The reason why I love writing is because is a great intellectual exercise that force you to communicate ideas in a very clear and sometimes concise way. As a startup CEO, I’ve learned to value the writing skills of my colleagues beyond the occasional blog post or article. Literally, I will go as far as saying that when evaluating multiple great candidates for a position I will almost always lean towards hiring the best writer if the rest of the skills are similar.
Sounds drastic? Well, let me try to explain my reasoning….
Writing is one of those skills that we tend to underestimate when building a great team. We can’t clearly quantify the benefits of having great writers in staff in the same way we can with other skills such as programming, sales, etc. Writing is one of those complementary skills which side-benefits become apparent over time and make every other skill better.
Writing is an expression of clear thinking and great communication which are some of the two most valuable assets you can have in a startup. When writing, you are forced to convey a message in a way that people you are not familiar with and have no direct relationship with you can understand and engage in the story. Good writers are often great communicators and great communicators often possess the knowledge and leadership skills that are so necessary and scarce in a startup.
Like any other intellectual exercise, the best way to improve your writing skills is, well, writing and reading a lot. Great writers (and even mediocre ones like myself ;) ) are, almost without exception, prolific readers.
As a startup founder or CEO, my advice would be to nurture and value the writing skills of your colleagues and yourself. Whether you use a public forum like a blog or write privately, continuously writing is one of those unquantifiable assets that will drastically improve your ability to communicate ideas in a concise, direct and easy to understand way.
What do you think? How important is to have good writing skills?