“I’ve learned that creating your own good content consistently doesn’t have to be complicated or labor intensive. Pick a platform you’re good at and do that first. When you get consistent and good at it, add another. “
Ann Zuccardy is the CEO of AZ Communications, LLC. She’s a marketing consultant with more than two decades of experience working in digital, copywriting, and marketing. Ann is a TEDx and professional speaker, published author, and social media coach.
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What inspires you to create?
Play and laughter. I grew up in a creative family and we made games or contests out of everything. My siblings and I put on plays and shows for my parents and my dad told us a serial bedtime story every night. Each night he would leave the story with a cliffhanger so that the next night, we’d beg to go to bed so we could hear what happened. We were always laughing, making up our own stories, songs, and games. When I do keynotes, I always tell people that to be more creative, you have to “embrace your inner dork.” That means accessing your inner child without caring about how silly it might look to others.
How do you deal with the times when you are not feeling creative?
I’m old enough to know that it will pass. However, I believe that creativity flourishes with routine. Many people think creativity is an unpredictable feeeeeeeeling. It’s not a feeling. It’s a discipline. I think creativity comes when you create routines and follow them daily (like writing at a certain time every day whether you feel like it it or not).
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about content and the Internet?
I’ve learned that creating your own good content consistently doesn’t have to be complicated or labor intensive. I think it might seem that way because there are so many platforms and types of media. Pick a platform you’re good at and do that first. When you get consistent and good at it, add another. Create an editorial calendar and stick to it. If you’re stuck for ideas, brainstorm with a friend who is creative.
How do you consume content? Which websites or publications do you consume?
I am a big fan of Twitter lists. I have lists for education, neuroscience, writing, speaking and other topics that interest me. I only add people with dependable, high quality content to those lists. I also use Flipboard and Feedly to aggregate content from reliable sources on the topics that interest me. I use Pocket to save articles I find that I may want to reference later. I also subscribe to Blinkist and read “blinks” (like Cliff Notes) about books I might be interested in. If I decide I’m interested in a book after listening to Blinkist, I’ll often buy it on Audible. I drive a lot and I almost always listen to books while I’m driving.
Describe your work day. Where do you feel most comfortable writing, working, and creating?
I’m an early riser and I like to exercise before I start my day. I don’t usually work in the evenings unless I have a deadline. My brain just doesn’t work well at night. I really need to be at a desk in my home office and I close the door to the office at the end of the day. I’m not one of those people who works well in a coffee shop. I like quiet. I’m easily distracted. I feel most comfortable writing with no music, my iPhone set on “do not disturb,” with a cup of coffee. I work at home most days, but too many days alone and I yearn to change my environment. I have a great library that I work in once or twice a week.
What one thing about your business excites you for 2017?
I just started grad school. I’m working on my master’s degree in creative non fiction. It’s giving me the push to write consistently and to be think more critically. The structure is really good for me and it’s teaching me better clarity on my business goals. The consistent writing I must do for school is spilling into my business writing.
What’s your strategy for presenting content at conferences?
I’m a little bit of a freak. I’m an extreme introvert, a classic definition. I’m far more comfortable speaking on stage than being in the middle of a group. I put an absurd amount of time into preparing my
Which social media channels do you feel best suit your message?
Twitter for me. I have a large engaged following and I spend a lot of time grooming my Twitter account (unfollowing inactives and fake accounts, buffering some content, interacting with top influencers, looking at what content does best for me). There are many great tools to help with all of this so I don’t spend more than 30 minutes a day on Twitter.
How do you approach speaking in front of a large audience?
I practice a lot prior to the speech. I practice in front of friends, colleagues, Rotary clubs, and my iPhone’s video camera. For a one hour keynote, I’ll practice every day for 2-3 months. I don’t memorize the whole speech, I just remember the flow/structure. I also practice body gestures and movements and coordinate them with the speech.
Do you have favorite creative inspirations? Favorite authors, artists, performers?
I love Leonard Cohen and was so sad that he passed away. Contemporary authors I love are Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, Bill Bryson, and David Sedaris. I’ve always been a big Ernest Hemingway fan because I love how he was able to fit so much into such simple sentences. He’d have been great at Twitter.
What makes good content GOOD?
It’s good if I remember it. If it just spews a bunch of facts at me, I’m probably not going to remember. If it entertains me, tells me a good story, is easy for me to consume, then I’m more likely to remember it and share it.
What’s the best way to incorporate play and laughter into creating?
Laugh every day for about 10 to 15 minutes. If you can’t laugh then just make yourself smile. Do it while you were driving, in the shower, or working. It actually changes brain chemistry. I just became a certified laughter yoga leader. This stuff really works. And it’s backed by science.