No Matter What….TDT Has A Book For That – By: Dr. Matt Lindsay

THERE IS A BOOK FOR THAT

I was at a seminar this past weekend and I was listening to Dr. Guy Riekeman speak. If you have never heard Dr. Guy speak….make a point to! He is infectious (In a good way)! After he spoke, I made my way up to his table to talk to him. In the middle of catching up with Dr. Guy, he stopped and said….”So what book are you reading right now?” I said The Compassionate Samurai by Brian Klemmer. So I ask you the same question…What book are you reading right now to make you better??

Round bookshelf

In business, the right book at the right moment can tilt the playing field and give you a crucial advantage. These thirty-seven business books have personally made a huge difference for me. In fact, they’re the best I’ve ever read.

Big Picture

These are all books that have shifted how I think about business as such. They’ve had a direct impact on the success I’ve experienced so far.

Strategy

When we’re working in a business, it’s easy to forget about working on the business. But it’s essential to to focus on the business if we want to keep moving ahead and growing.

Productivity

Personal and professional achievement are high values for me. That’s why I read a lot on the topic of productivity. These have been game-changers for me.

Leadership

As a corporate executive and now the leader of a rapidly growing small business, leadership is more than a concept; it’s my everyday experience. A few of these are not straight leadership books, but they’ve been very influential on my leadership.

Marketing

Great products deserve great marketing. But the ground is always shifting. These books represent the core philosophy, strategy, and tactics for successful marketing in today’s environment.

Presentations

I’ve been professionally speaking for several years, but presentations are part of almost any job. Learning to do it well can be critical to our success. It’s been key for me. I’ve read many books in this category, but these have had the most impact on my approach to presentations.

By: Dr. Matt Lindsay

( – = + ) By: Dr. Matt Lindsay

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Everyone has heard of and understands the concept of “less is more.”  If you grew up in the 80’s however, you may remember when “more was more,” regarding hairspray, makeup, and layers of clothing.  It is the typical American mindset that “if some is good, more is better,” but when it comes to chiropractic, and healthcare in general, this concept simply isn’t true.

Just this week, I had a brand new practice member come to me and say that although she loves our practice, and understands our mission, that she prefers getting more “bang for her buck” at the chiropractor.  I asked her what she meant, and she replied that she was used to going to the chiropractor, and for just one copayment of $30, she would receive 15 minutes of electric stim therapy, 15 minutes of laying down on a warm hydro-bed, and 5 minutes of heat before her adjustment, which consisted of her practitioner rolling her lower back to her left, then to her right, pushing on every part of her back all the way up the spine, and rolling her neck to the left, then to the right until practically every bone in her spine had been mobilized in some way or another.

America.

If a specific adjustment to the spine is beneficial, then a complete molestation of the nerve system through multiple non-specific insulting thrusts must be way better.

I realize that the specific Gonstead method of chiropractic that we practice is not for everyone.  Some people want the “feel good factor” more than they want the “be well factor.”  Some individuals would rather cover up the “check engine” light on the dash, rather than truly do what is necessary to correct the problem under the hood.

It’s a lot easier to hit a clay pigeon with a shotgun than it is with a pistol.  Unfortunately, the shotgun-approach to chiropractic is neither beneficial to one’s health, nor is it ethical for the chiropractor to perform.  There are many forms of chiropractic outside the Gonstead Method.  Some may not have a specific adjustment for a particular spinal segment, but their intention is specific in the nature of it’s spinal curve-correction clinical objective.  I’m not knocking these techniques.  I’m knocking the charlatans in this profession, who trick people into believing that the more products and services they could consume, the better her health would become.

The body is the most complex electrical system, chemical plant, mechanical device, plumbing pipeline, defense program, sensory integrator, and super computer ever to be created.  To think that we can even begin to fathom our effects on it from the outside using drugs, surgeries, or even chiropractic is presumptuous at best.  Pure science would propose that when attempting to identify a cause-effect relationship, one must limit the number of variables in an experiment to, if possible, one measured variable.  Wouldn’t science, then, support forms of chiropractic involving less therapies, modalities, and even less adjustive thrusts per chiropractic visit?  I believe it would.

Chiropractic is nothing, if not specific.  We are being poor clinicians, scientists, and communicators if our practice members believe that “more is better,” regarding chiropractic.

Less is more.  The human body knows more about healing than any one person will ever know.  Interfere less, remove interference, and allow the body the time to take care of itself as it was intended to do.

By:  Dr. Matt Lindsay

TDT’s Top 9 Warning Signs That Scream One Thing: You’re in Bad Company! – By: Dr. Matt Lindsay

9 Warning Signs You’re in Bad Company

“It is better to be alone than in bad company.”  – Unknown

A big part of who you become in life has to do with who you choose to surround yourself with.  Sometimes luck controls who walks into your life, but you decide who you let stay, who you pursue, and who you let walk back out.

Ultimately, you should surround yourself with people who make you a better person and let go of those who don’t.  Here are some warning signs you’re in the presence of the latter:

1.  They only make time for you when it’s convenient for them.

It’s obvious, but any relationship without regular interaction and communication is going to have problems, especially when there’s a lack of commitment.

Don’t waste your time with someone who only wants you around when it’s convenient for them.  You shouldn’t have to force someone to make a space in their life for you, because if they truly care about you they will gladly create space for you.  Being in a relationship with someone who overlooks your worth isn’t loyalty, it’s stupidity.  Never beg someone for attention.  Know your self-worth, and move on if you must.

2.  They hold your past against you.

Some people will refuse to accept that you are no longer who you used to be – that you’ve made mistakes in the past, learned from them, and moved past them.  They may not be able to stand the fact that you’re growing and moving on with your life, and so they will try to drag your past to catch up with you.  Do not help them by acknowledging their negative behavior.  Keep moving forward.

Holding on to the unchangeable past is a waste of energy and serves no purpose in creating a better day today.  Only a fool trips on what lies behind them!  If someone continuously judges you by your past and holds it against you, you might have to repair your future by leaving them behind.

3.  You feel trapped.

Healthy relationships keep the doors and windows wide open.  Plenty of air is flowing and no one feels trapped.  Relationships thrive in this kind of unrestricted environment.  You can come and go as you please, but you choose to stay because where you are is where you want to be.

If you want to be a part of someone’s life, all the open doors and windows in the world won’t make you leave.  If someone has closed them all in an effort to trap you into something you don’t want to be a part of, it’s time to find the strength to kick down the door.  

4.  They discredit your dreams and abilities.

If you allow others to define your dreams and abilities, then you enable them to hold you back.  What you’re capable of achieving is not a function of what other people think is possible for you.  What you’re capable of achieving depends on what you choose to do with your time and energy.

People will throw all sorts of assumptions your way about what is possible and what is impossible.  Look beyond the presumptions and mental limitations of others, and connect with your own best vision of how YOUR life can be.  Life is an open-ended journey, and what you achieve comes from what you expect to achieve and what you work to achieve.

So don’t worry about what everyone else thinks.  Keep living your truth.  The only people that will get mad at you for doing so are those who want you to live a lie.

5.  They have lied to you more than once.

Love is a verb, not a noun.  It is ACTIVE in all relationships.  Love is not just feelings of passion and romance between lovers;  it is also a behavior among friends and family.  If someone lies to you, they are unlovingly disrespecting you and your relationship…And if they do it once, odds are they would have no problem doing it again.

When you keep someone in your life who is a chronic liar, and you keep giving them new chances to be trusted, you have a lot in common with this person – you’re both lying and being unloving to you!

Bottom line:  Those who avoid the truth and tell you only what you want to hear do so for their own benefit, not yours.  Don’t put up with it.  (Read  –  Emotional Vampires.)

6.  Their negativity is rubbing off on you.

The negative people in your life don’t just behave negatively towards you, but towards everyone they interact with.  What they say and do is a projection of their own reality – their own inner issues.  Even if they say something to you that seems personal – even if they insult you directly – it likely has zero to do with you.

This is important to remember because what these negative people say and do shouldn’t be taken to heart.  Although you don’t have control over what they say and do;  you do have control over whether or not you allow them to say and do these things to you.  You alone can deny their venomous words and actions from invading your heart and mind.  If you feel like these people are getting to you, take a break and give yourself some space to breathe.  Positive things happen when you distance yourself from negative people.  Doing so doesn’t mean you hate them, it simply means you respect yourself.

7.   They are excessively envious of what you have.

A little bit of envy is OK, but when someone is excessively envious of what you have, there’s a good chance what they really want is to take it from you.

Excessive envy doesn’t tell you how much someone admires you, it tells you how much they dislike themselves.  If you can, try to help lift them up, but also be careful that they don’t pull you down.  Oftentimes no amount of love, or promises, or proof from you will ever be enough to make them feel better about themselves.  For the broken pieces they carry, are pieces they must mend for themselves.  Happiness, after all, is an inside job.

8.  They motivate you to be judgmental or hateful.

Truth be told, no human being is superior.  No faith, race, size or shape is inferior.  All collective judgments about others are wrong.  Only judgmental hypocrites make them.

If you judge others by their skin color, their body size, and their outer beauty, you will miss EVERYTHING about who they really are.  It is amazing the quality of people you will learn about and meet in this world if you can simply get past the fact that lots of people are not dressing and living the way you do.

People who motivate you to judge or hate others are as bad as bad company gets.  Avoid them at all costs.  (Read – The Mastery of Love.)

9.  They want you to be someone else….Someone you know you’re NOT!

Spend time with people who see you the way you are, and not as they wish to think you are.  Spend even more time with those who truly know about you, and who love and respect you anyway.

If someone expects you to be someone you’re not, take a step back.  It’s wiser to lose relationships over being who you are, than to keep them intact by acting like someone you’re not.  It’s easier to nurse a little heartache and meet someone new, than it is to piece together your own shattered identity.  It’s easier to fill an empty space within your life where someone else used to be, than it is to fill the empty space within yourself where YOU used to be.

Your turn…

What would you add to the list?  What’s one big warning sign you’re in the presence of bad company?  Please leave a comment below and let me know.  Bottom line is in every situation regardless of who you are or what you’re doing, there is one thing that remains a constant as time passes us by….the simple fact that you will become the five people you see/work with the most.Literally last night, another young doc (Dr. Chase Horton) was reading another one my blog posts about how to acquire an athletic nervous system and maintain that nervous system as an athlete….he liked the post reached out to me.  Nothing big but just to tell me that he enjoyed the post to keep up the good work and if I were interested that he would be in Atlanta sometime soon and would love to bounce ideas off of each other.  It is a classic example of a young eager hungry doctor trying to make what he does even better. Now days docs don’t have that desire, that passion, that drive to be better every single day…and to do so by any means necessary!  Big ups to Dr. Chase Horton!  So, as one of Tomorrow’s Doctors Today….I would be careful who you surround yourself with and the company you keep.  Better to be like Dr. Chase and find the ones around you that you could learn from, mentor, teach, mold, help or that could help you become a better version of yourself.

By:  Dr. Matt Lindsay

TDT’s Top 12 Things Successful People Do Differently – By: Dr. Matt Lindsay

12 Things Successful People Do Differently

I’ve always been fascinated by people who are consistently successful at what they do; especially those who experience repeated success in many areas of their life throughout their lifetime.  In entertainment, I think of Clint Eastwood and Oprah Winfrey. In sports I think of Ray Lewis, Peyton Manning or Russell Wilson. In business, I think of Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett.  We all have our own examples of super successful people like these who we admire.  But how do they do it?

Over the years I’ve studied the lives of numerous successful people.  I’ve read their books, watched their interviews, researched them online, etc.  And I’ve learned that most of them were not born into success; they simply did, and continue to do, things that help them realize their full potential.  Here are twelve things they do differently that the rest of us can easily emulate.

1.  They create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Successful people are objective.  They have realistic targets in mind.  They know what they are looking for and why they are fighting for it.  Successful people create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals.

S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.  Let’s briefly review each:

  • Specific – A general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a related specific goal would be, “Join a health club and workout 3 days a week for the next52 weeks.”  A specific goal has a far greater chance of being accomplished because it has defined parameters and constraints.
  • Measurable – There must be a logical system for measuring the progress of a goal.  To determine if your goal is measurable, ask yourself questions like:  How much time? How many total?  How will I know when the goal is accomplished? etc.  When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued efforts required to reach your goal.
  • Attainable – To be attainable, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work.  In other words, the goal must be realistic.  The big question here is:  How can the goal be accomplished?
  • Relevant – Relevance stresses the importance of choosing goals that matter.  For example, an internet entrepreneur’s goal to “Make 75 tuna sandwiches by 2:00PM.” may be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Timely, but lacks Relevance to an entrepreneurs overarching objective of building a profitable online business.
  • Timely – A goal must be grounded within a time frame, giving the goal a target date.  A commitment to a deadline helps you focus your efforts on the completion of the goal on or before the due date.  This part of the S.M.A.R.T. goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by daily distractions.

When you identify S.M.A.R.T. goals that are truly important to you, you become motivated to figure out ways to attain them.  You develop the necessary attitude, abilities, and skills.  You can achieve almost any goal you set if you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps.  Goals that once seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them.

2.  They take decisive and immediate action.

Sadly, very few people ever live to become the success story they dream about.  And there’s one simple reason why:

They never take action!

The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing.  Growing happens when what you know changes how you live.   So many people live in a complete daze.  Actually, they don’t ‘live.’  They simply ‘get by’ because they never take the necessary action to make things happen – to seek their dreams.

It doesn’t matter if you have a genius IQ and a PhD in Quantum Physics, you can’t change anything or make any sort of real-world progress without taking action.  There’s a huge difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it.  Knowledge and intelligence are both useless without action.  It’s as simple as that.

Success hinges on the simple act of making a decision to live – to absorb yourself in the process of going after your dreams and goals.  So make that decision.  And take action.  For some practical guidance on taking action I highly recommendGetting Things Done.

3.  They focus on being productive, not being busy.

In his book, The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferris says, “Slow down and remember this:  Most things make no difference.  Being busy is often a form of mental laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”  This is Ferris’ way of saying “work smarter, not harder,” which happens to be one of the most prevalent modern day personal development clichés.  But like most clichés, there’s a great deal of truth to it, and few people actually adhere to it.

Just take a quick look around.  The busy outnumber the productive by a wide margin.

Busy people are rushing all over the place, and running late half of the time.  They’re heading to work, conferences, meetings, social engagements, etc.  They barely have enough free time for family get-togethers and they rarely get enough sleep.  Yet, business emails are shooting out of their smart phones like machine gun bullets, and their daily planner is jammed to the brim with obligations.

Their busy schedule gives them an elevated sense of importance.  But it’s all an illusion.  They’re like hamsters running on a wheel.

The solution:  Slow down.  Breathe.  Review your commitments and goals.  Put first things first.  Do one thing at a time.  Start now.  Take a short break in two hours.  Repeat.

And always remember, results are more important than the time it takes to achieve them.

4.  They make logical, informed decisions.

Sometimes we do things that are permanently foolish simply because we are temporarily upset or excited.

Although emotional ‘gut instincts’ are effective in certain fleeting situations, when it comes to generating long-term, sustained growth in any area of life, emotional decisions often lead a person astray.  Decisions driven by heavy emotion typically contain minimal amounts of conscious thought, and are primarily based on momentary feelings instead of mindful awareness.

The best advice here is simple:  Don’t let your emotions trump your intelligence.  Slow down and think things through before you make any life-changing decisions.

5.  They avoid the trap of trying to make things perfect.

Many of us are perfectionists in our own right.  I know I am at times.  We set high bars for ourselves and put our best foot forward.  We dedicate copious amounts of time and attention to our work to maintain our high personal standards.  Our passion for excellence drives us to run the extra mile, never stopping, never relenting.  And this dedication towards perfection undoubtedly helps us achieve results…  So long as we don’t get carried away.

But what happens when we do get carried away with perfectionism?

We become disgruntled and discouraged when we fail to meet the (impossibly high) standards we set for ourselves, making us reluctant to take on new challenges or even finish tasks we’ve already started.  Our insistence on dotting every ‘I’ and crossing every ‘T’ breeds inefficiency, causing major delays, stress overload and subpar results.

True perfectionists have a hard time starting things and an even harder time finishing them, always.  I have a friend who has wanted to start a graphic design business for several years.  But she hasn’t yet.  Why?  When you sift through her extensive list of excuses it comes down to one simple problem:  She is a perfectionist.  Which means she doesn’t, and never will, think she’s good enough at graphic design to own and operate her own graphic design business.

Remember, the real world doesn’t reward perfectionists.  It rewards people who get things done.  And the only way to get things done is to be imperfect 99% of the time.  Only by wading through years of practice and imperfection can we begin to achieve momentary glimpses of the perfection.  So make a decision.  Take action, learn from the outcome, and repeat this method over and over again in all walks of life.  Also, check out Too Perfect.  It’s an excellent read on conquering perfectionism.

6.  They work outside of their comfort zone.

The number one thing I persistently see holding smart people back is their own reluctance to accept an opportunity simply because they don’t think they’re ready.  In other words, they feel uncomfortable and believe they require additional knowledge, skill, experience, etc. before they can aptly partake in the opportunity.  Sadly, this is the kind of thinking that stifles personal growth and success.

The truth is nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises.  Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow emotionally and intellectually.  They force us to stretch ourselves and our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.  And when we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t feel ready.

Significant moments of opportunity for personal growth and success will come and go throughout your lifetime.  If you are looking to make positive changes and new breakthroughs in your life, you will need to embrace these moments of opportunity even though you will never feel 100% ready for them.

7.  They keep things simple.

Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  Here in the 21st century, where information moves at the speed of light and opportunities for innovation seem endless, we have an abundant array of choices when it comes to designing our lives and careers.  But sadly, an abundance of choice often leads to complication, confusion and inaction.

Several business and marketing studies have shown that the more product choices a consumer is faced with, the less products they typically buy.  After all, narrowing down the best product from a pool of three choices is certainly a lot easier than narrowing down the best product from a pool of three hundred choices.  If the purchasing decision is tough to make, most people will just give up.  Likewise, if you complicate your life by inundating yourself with too many choices, your subconscious mind will give up.

The solution is to simplify.  If you’re selling a product line, keep it simple.  And if you’re trying to make a decision about something in your life, don’t waste all your time evaluating every last detail of every possible option.  Choose something that you think will work and give it a shot.  If it doesn’t work out, learn what you can from the experience, choose something else and keep pressing forward.

8.  They focus on making small, continuous improvements.

Henry Ford once said, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small pieces.” The same concept configured as a question:  How do you eat an elephant?  Answer: One bite at a time.  This philosophy holds true for achieving your biggest goals.  Making small, positive changes – eating a little healthier, exercising a little, creating some small productive habits, for example – is an amazing way to get excited about life and slowly reach the level of success you aspire to.

And if you start small, you don’t need a lot of motivation to get started either.  The simple act of getting started and doing something will give you the momentum you need, and soon you’ll find yourself in a positive spiral of changes – one building on the other.  When I started doing this in my life, I was so excited I had to start this blog to share it with the world.

Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they arise.  For instance, if you’re trying to lose weight, come up with a list of healthy snacks you can eat when you get the craving for snacks.  It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier.  And that’s the whole point.  As your strength grows, you can take on bigger challenges.

9.  They measure and track their progress.

Successful people are not only working in their job/business, they are also working on it.  They step back and assess their progress regularly.  They track themselves against their goals and clearly know what needs to be done to excel and accelerate.

You can’t control what you don’t properly measure.  If you track the wrong things you’ll be completely blind to potential opportunities as they appear over the horizon.  Imagine if, while running a small business, you made it a point to keep track of how many pencils and paperclips you used.  Would that make any sense?  No!  Because pencils and paperclips are not a measure of what’s important for a business.  Pencils and paperclips have no bearing on income, customer satisfaction, market growth, etc.

The proper approach is to figure out what your number one goal is and then track the things that directly relate to achieving that goal.  I recommend that you take some time right now to identify your number one goal, identify the most important things for you to keep track of, and then begin tracking them immediately.  On a weekly basis, plug the numbers into a spreadsheet and use the data to create weekly or monthly trend graphs so you can visualize your progress.  Then fine-tune your actions to get those trends to grow in your favor.

10.  They maintain a positive outlook as they learn from their mistakes.

Successful people concentrate on the positives – they look for the silver lining in every situation.  They know that it is their positivity that will take them to greatness.  If you want to be successful, you need to have a positive outlook toward life.  Life will test you again and again.  If you give in to internal negativity, you will never be able to achieve the marks you have targeted.

Remember, every mistake you make is progress.  Mistakes teach you important lessons.  Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal.  The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.

So don’t hesitate – don’t doubt yourself!  Don’t let your own negativity sabotage you.  Learn what you can and press forward.

11.  They spend time with the right people.

Successful people associate with people who are likeminded, focused, and supportive.  They socialize with people who create energy when they enter the room versus those who create energy when they leave.  They reach out to connected, influential individuals who are right for their dreams and goals.

You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with.  If you hang with the wrong people, they will negatively affect you.  But if you hang with the right people, you will become far more capable and successful than you ever could have been alone.  Find your tribe and work together to make a difference in all of your lives.  Tribes by Seth Godin is a great read on this topic.

12.  They maintain balance in their life.

If you ask most people to summarize what they want out of life they’ll shout out a list of things like: ‘fall in love,’ ‘make money,’ ‘spend time with family,’ ‘find happiness,’ ‘achieve goals,’ etc.  But sadly, a lot of people don’t balance their life properly to achieve these things.  Typically they’ll achieve one or two of them while completely neglecting the rest.  Let me give you two examples:

  • I know an extremely savvy businesswoman who made almost a million dollars online last year. Based on the success of her business, every entrepreneur I know looks up to her.  But guess what?  A few days ago, out of the blue, she told me that she’s depressed.  Why?  “I’m burnt out and lonely.  I just haven’t taken enough time for myself lately, and I feel like something is missing in my life,” she said.  “Wow!” I thought.  “One of the most successful people I know doesn’t feel successful because she isn’t happy with how she has balanced her life.”
  • I also know a surfer who surfs all day, every day on the beach in front of our condo complex in San Diego.  He’s one of the most lighthearted, optimistic guys I’ve ever met – usually smiling from ear to ear.  But he sleeps in a rusty van he co-owns with another surfer, and they both frequently panhandle tourists for money.  He has admitted to me that the stress of making enough money to eat often keeps him up at night.  So while I can’t deny that this man seems happy most of the time, I wouldn’t classify his life as a success story.

These are just two simple examples of imbalanced lifestyles that are holding people back from their full potential.  When you let your work life (or social life, family life, etc.) consume you, and all your energy is focused in that area, it’s extremely easy to lose your balance.  While drive and focus are important, if you’re going to get things done right, and be truly successful, you need to balance the various dimensions of your life.  Completely neglecting one dimension for another only leads to long-term frustration and stress.

By:  Dr. Matt Lindsay

TDT’s Top 40 Most Incorrect Used Words That Can Make You Look Like a Dumbass – By: Dr. Matt Lindsay

51b801f43fe5c32187While I like to think I am a well educated person, I feel very confident in saying my fluency in medical terminology is pretty superior. I also have learned a thing or two about business writing…but I’m sorry to say I had to learn it the hard way! Truth is that you could have the best education money can buy, but if you have below par grammar, you very well could get be seen as the “uneducated ignorant tool” of the group.

Take the words “who” and “whom.” I rarely use “whom” when I should — even when spell check suggests “whom” I think it sounds pretentious. So I use “who.”

And then I sound like a real dumbass.

Just like one misspelled word can get your resume tossed onto the “Ummm NOPE” pile, one incorrectly used word can negatively impact your entire message. Fairly or unfairly, it happens — so let’s make sure it doesn’t happen to you Doc.

Adverse and Averse

Adverse means harmful or unfavorable: “Adverse market conditions caused the IPO to be poorly subscribed.” Averse refers to feelings of dislike or opposition: “I was averse to paying $18 a share for a company that generates no revenue.”

But hey, feel free to have an aversion to adverse conditions.

Affect and Effect

Verbs first. Affect means to influence: “Impatient investors affected our roll-out date.” Effect means to accomplish something: “The board effected a sweeping policy change.”

How you use effect or affect can be tricky. For example, a board can affect changes by influencing them and can effect changes by directly implementing them. Bottom line, use effect if you’re making it happen, and affect if you’re having an impact on something that someone else is trying to make happen.

As for nouns, effect is almost always correct: “Once he was fired he was given 20 minutes to gather his personal effects.” Affect refers to an emotional state, so unless you’re a psychologist you probably have little reason to use it.

Bring and Take

Both have to do with objects you move or carry. The difference is in the point of reference: you bring things here and you take them there. You ask people to bring something to you, and you ask people to take something to someone or somewhere else.

“Can you bring an appetizer to John’s party”? Nope.

Compliment and Complement

Compliment means to say something nice. Complement means to add to, enhance, improve, complete, or bring close to perfection.

I can compliment your staff and their service, but if you have no current openings you have a full complement of staff. Or your new app may complement your website.

For which I may decide to compliment you.

Criteria and Criterion

“We made the decision based on one overriding criteria,” sounds fairly impressive but is also wrong.

Remember: one criterion, two or more criteria. Or just use “reason” or “factors” and you won’t have to worry about getting it wrong.

Discreet and Discrete

Discreet means careful, cautious, showing good judgment: “We made discreet inquiries to determine whether the founder was interested in selling her company.”

Discrete means individual, separate, or distinct: “We analyzed data from a number of discrete market segments to determine overall pricing levels.” And if you get confused, remember you don’t use “discretion” to work through sensitive issues; you exercise discretion.

Elicit and Illicit

Elicit means to draw out or coax. Think of elicit as the mildest form of extract. If one lucky survey respondent will win a trip to the Bahamas, the prize is designed to elicit responses.

Illicit means illegal or unlawful, and while I suppose you could elicit a response at gunpoint … you probably shouldn’t.

Farther and Further

Farther involves a physical distance: “Florida is farther from New York than Tennessee.” Further involves a figurative distance: “We can take our business plan no further.”

So, as we say in the South (and that “we” has included me), “I don’t trust you any farther than I can throw you,” or, “I ain’t gonna trust you no further.”

Fewer and Less

Use fewer when referring to items you can count, like “fewer hours” or “fewer dollars.”

Use “less” when referring to items you can’t (or haven’t tried to) count, like “less time” or “less money.”

Imply and Infer

The speaker or writer implies, which means to suggest. The listener or reader infers, which means to deduce, whether correctly or not.

So I might imply you’re going to receive a raise. And you might infer that a pay increase is imminent. (But not eminent, unless the raise will somehow be prominent and distinguished.)

Insure and Ensure

This one’s easy. Insure refers to insurance. Ensure means to make sure.

So if you promise an order will ship on time, ensure that it actually happens. Unless, of course, you plan to arrange for compensation if the package is damaged or lost — then feel free to insure away.

(While there are exceptions where insure is used, the safe move is to use ensure when you will do everything possible to make sure something happens.)

Irregardless and Regardless

Irregardless appears in some dictionaries because it’s widely used to mean “without regard to” or “without respect to”… which is also what regardless means.

In theory the ir-, which typically means “not,” joined up with regardless, which means “without regard to,” makes irregardless mean “not without regard to,” or more simply, “with regard to.”

Which probably makes it a word that does not mean what you think it means.

So save yourself a syllable and just say regardless.

Number and Amount

I goof these up all the time. Use number when you can count what you refer to: “The number of subscribers who opted out increased last month.” Amount refers to a quantity of something that can’t be counted: “The amount of alcohol consumed at our last company picnic was staggering.”

Of course it can still be confusing: “I can’t believe the number of beers I drank,” is correct, but so is, “I can’t believe the amount of beer I drank.” The difference is you can count beers, but beer, especially if you were way too drunk to keep track, is an uncountable total and makes amount the correct usage.

Precede and Proceed

Precede means to come before. Proceed means to begin or continue. Where it gets confusing is when an -ing comes into play. “The proceeding announcement was brought to you by…” sounds fine, but preceding is correct since the announcement came before.

If it helps, think precedence: anything that takes precedence is more important and therefore comes first.

Principal and Principle

A principle is a fundamental: “Our culture is based on a set of shared principles.” Principal means primary or of first importance: “Our startup’s principal is located in NYC.” (Sometimes you’ll also see the plural, principals, used to refer to executives or relatively co-equals at the top of a particular food chain.)

Principal can also refer to the most important item in a particular set: “Our principal account makes up 60% of our gross revenues.”

Principal can also refer to money, normally a sum that was borrowed, but can be extended to refer to the amount you owe — hence principal and interest.

If you’re referring to laws, rules, guidelines, ethics, etc., use principle. If you’re referring to the CEO or the president (or an individual in charge of a high school), use principal.

Slander and Libel

Don’t like what people say about you? Like slander, libel refers to making a false statement that is harmful to a person’s reputation.

The difference lies in how that statement is expressed. Slanderous remarks are spoken while libelous remarks are written and published (which means defamatory tweets could be considered libelous, not slanderous).

Keep in mind what makes a statement libelous or slanderous is its inaccuracy, not its harshness. No matter how nasty a tweet, as long as it’s factually correct it cannot be libelous. Truth is an absolute defense to defamation; you might wish a customer hadn’t said something derogatory about your business… but if what that customer said is true then you have no legal recourse.

And now for those dreaded apostrophes:

It’s and Its

It’s is the contraction of it is. That means it’s doesn’t own anything. If your dog is neutered (the way we make a dog, however much against his or her will, gender neutral), you don’t say, “It’s collar is blue.” You say, “Its collar is blue.”

Here’s an easy test to apply. Whenever you use an apostrophe, un-contract the word to see how it sounds. Turn it’s into it is: “It’s sunny,” becomes, “It is sunny.”

Sounds good to me.

They’re and Their

Same with these: They’re is the contraction for they are. Again, the apostrophe doesn’t own anything. We’re going to their house, and I sure hope they’re home.

Who’s and Whose

“Whose password hasn’t been changed in six months?” is correct. Use the non-contracted version of who’s, like, “Who is (the non-contracted version of who’s) password hasn’t been changed in six months?” and you sound a little silly.

You’re and Your

One more. You’re is the contraction of you are. Your means you own it; the apostrophe in you’re doesn’t own anything.

For a long time a local nonprofit displayed a huge sign that said, “You’re Community Place.”

Hmm. “You Are Community Place”? No, probably not. Bottom line…..Understand what YOU’RE saying…know who YOU’RE talking to….and don’t unknowingly make yourself look like a total ASS!

By:  Dr. Matt Lindsay