Words that Seuss Built

Theodore Seuss Geisel would have been 107 years old celebrating, no doubt,  in a most unusual way if he were alive today. While the “Dr.” has been gone for nearly twenty years he left a treasure with us. He left his words. Words mattered to Seuss and they matter to Frank Luntz. Luntz may not be a household name (unless you read Huffington Post, watch the Fox New Channel or follow pollsters) but he has spent his career as a wordsmith. The other day I caught one of his pieces where he shares what he considers to be the eleven most powerful words and phrases for twenty eleven. Noteworthy, here is Luntz’ “11 for 11.”

  1. “Imagine” …the most powerful word in the English language because it is inspiring, motivating, and has a unique definition for each person. When you want to inspire, imagine is the language vehicle. From the creative play of a young child to the inner workings of the solitary writer, imagination is powerful and timeless.
  2. “No excuses.” …no phrase better conveys accountability, responsibility and transparency. This phrase generates immediate respect and appreciation. Responsibility. In a time when people blame, sue, find fault and don’t own mistakes, there seems to be plenty of excuses to go around.
  3. “I get it.” This explains not only a complete understanding of the situation but also a willingness to solve or resolve the situation. It’s short, sweet and effective. Short and to the point. You either don’t or do—get it.
  4. “If you remember only one thing…” is the surest way to guarantee that voters will remember the one point that matters most to you. Works in most situations. All other words water down the point and the message is lost.
  5. “Uncompromising integrity.” Of all the truthiness words, none is as powerful as “integrity.”  And if we had more integrity, what else would we need except…
  6. “The simple truth” Truth is simple. It’s black or it’s white. It’s yes or it’s no.
  7. “Let’s get to work” No other end-of-speech rallying cry is more motivational to voters. Let’s not talk. Let’s not analyze. Let’s just do it!
  8. “Real-time.” “Real-time” communicates receiving information at the speed of life. I dunno, but I think that maybe we have too much of a real thing. Need I say more?
  9. “Believe in better” comes from BSkyB, the satellite television provider owned in part by Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp empire. We don’t need more, we just need better. Quality not quantity. Or maybe our best?
  10. You deserve.” This comes from DNC Chairman Tim Kaine and it was first employed by him in his highly praised 2006 SOTU response.  We don’t have to earn anything. We just deserve it. Now that’s the problem!
  11. “You decide.” The lesson of 2010 is that Americans want control of their lives back, and they don’t want Washington or Wall Street making their decisions for them. Which, of course, we are NOT doing a good job at decision making.

If you want to read the expanded version, Luntz’ book, Win: The Principles That Take Your Business From Ordinary to Extraordinary, is a must read.

Undeniably Seuss and Luntz are doctors, doctors of words. Now go do the write thing!


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