Why read biographies?

The philosopher George Santayana said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I feel the same way about biographies, with two important additions.

1 Biographies can address not only past performance, but current performance as well. We can read about famous historical figures, and also about our contemporaries. Each type gives us insight into successful ideas and innovative problem-solving.

2. History is often written in chronology form, and discusses how one event leads to another. Biographies can be presented chronologically, as memoirs (references to highlights in a person’s life), or as a flashback (where the story begins well into a person’s life, and then looks back at the early years).

Since the beginning of recorded history, people have passed along information in the form of stories…both factual and fictional. Virtually all those stories discuss how a human solves a program.

The secret: A dedicated biography reader — using only a library card — can absorb instant information from the greatest minds who ever walked the earth. That education is free…and at the same time it’s priceless.

Different lengths of biographies

Many of us think of biographies as long-form books…15,000 words or more.

But short biographies — those in the 100-500 word range — are very useful. Here are a few reasons to create your own autobiography:

== Use it as part of your resume’.

== It’s helpful when you are appointed to a new business position, or if you change industries. It can tell readers or potential clients about your skills.

== If you write an article for a professional publication, a very short bio (50-100 words) can briefly describe why you’re qualified to write that article.

What to put in your own autobiography? I nearly always include (1) my education, (2) my areas of specialization since graduation, (3) why I developed the specialties I did, and (4) the specific ways I can assist my clients.

Take a look at Rix’s new book: How to Sell Ideas With the Minute Message.

“The elevator pitch”

Do you know what this is? It’s a way to help sales people focus on what they sell, and why customers should buy that product.

Here’s the concept: You get on an elevator with someone else, and in one minute you need to tell them what you do, and why they should do business with you. What do you say?

A biography can be created this same way. Start with you own biography. You meet a complete stranger, and you want that person to know more about your accomplishments…and what’s important to you.

When I’ve been asked to do that, I tell the listener (1) where I’m from, (2) my specialty, and how I discovered it, (3) how i can help others improve their lives, and then (4) I offer a reason why that other person should work with me.

Try this. It’s good exercise for both the student and the experienced professional.

Take a look at Rix’s new book: How to Sell Ideas With the Minute Message

Biography as a resume’?

Sure, I think a three or four-sentence biography can work as an addition to a regular resume’. It’s one more way to introduce yourself, or briefly discuss your expertise.

When I’m asked to write for a newspaper or magazine, I often include a very brief bio at the end of the article. But in that case, I don’t include details of my entire professional life.

Instead, I simply detail what qualifies me to write about the particular subject discussed in the article. And if it is for a professional magazine, I often include my e-mail if a reader would like more information on the technical subject I discussed.

PLEASE E-MAIL ME if you’ve got other ideas for an ultra-short biography. Then, with your permission, I’ll include it in this blog. My e-mail is rix@rixquinn.com.

Write your Minute Bio today!

A friend whose parents recently died told me she wished she’d ask them more questions about their early lives.

“They grew up during the Depression,” she said, “and struggled hard just to give their children a better life. I do wish they’d written something down, so we kids would know more about the schools they attended, and the early jobs they had.”

No matter what your age, you can begin writing a “mini-biography,” a 200 to 500-word story of your life thus far. It’s something you can gift to children, grandchildren, and friends who’ve helped you along the way.

Don’t worry getting off to the perfect start. Just start writing down what you remember. You can move paragraphs around later.

Answer these questions to help you get started: What’s the greatest day of your life? What’s the first memory you have? What do you remember about elementary school? What do you like most about your career?

Take a look at Rix’s new book: How to Sell Ideas With the Minute Message