National Writing Project

Why I Write: Jill Nash Strives for Simple Eloquence in Business Writing

Date: October 19, 2011

Summary: Jill Nash, chief communications officer and senior vice president of Corporate Affairs at Levi Strauss & Co., emphasizes that clear, concise writing is a key ingredient for success in the business world.


There's very little in the world that's as beautiful as a well-written sentence.

You know the kind I'm talking about. As you're reading, it'll stop you in your tracks and force you to read it again. And again. Maybe even out loud. And if it's truly special—and this has happened to me—it'll bring a tear to your eye.

Perfection, in a handful of words.

Now, as much as I aspire to write the perfect sentence, it appears to be out of reach.

As a communicator in the corporate world, my writing is usually in short bursts in the form of a brief email or quick handwritten note. Deadlines loom. A hundred other emails await. And, then, there are the meetings.

All that said, writing well in the business world is critical and, unfortunately, often rare. And that's why I appreciate it so much when I see it.

What does it look like? Crisp, simple, eloquence.

Too many of us have been on the receiving end of a 40-page PowerPoint presentation or a job applicant's four-page resume. For some "edit" is clearly a four-letter word.

So, why do I write? I enjoy it. Even with something as simple as an email message, writing gives me the opportunity to stop—a luxury some days—gather my thoughts, and think about what I'm trying to communicate.

Writing empowers me, because it not only forces me to pause, it requires the reader to do so, as well, to take note of what I've written. And honestly, if I'm going to the effort to write – even an email – I hope to be read. Otherwise, why bother?

My rules for business writing? Keep it short. Keep it simple. And if it's complicated, keep it bite-sized.

In a world where too many people measure their worth by the number of words they use, I admit that brevity can be seen as a weakness. My counter to that is if you can get your point across—clearly, concisely and eloquently—you'll be heard. And remembered. And that's definitely a strength.

About the Author Jill Nash is Chief Communications Officer and Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Levi Strauss & Co.In her role, Nash directs all aspects of worldwide communications efforts for Levi Strauss & Co., overseeing media relations, government and policy, issues management, community and consumer relations, and employee communications. In her role, Nash is a member of the company's worldwide leadership team, which sets the company's global direction.

Nash joined Levi Strauss & Co. in March 2009, from Yahoo!, where she was senior vice president & chief communications officer, responsible for leading the company's global communications strategies. Previously, she held senior-level communications roles at Gap Inc. and The Charles Schwab Corporation. Earlier in her career, she held leadership positions at KPMG and Transamerica Life.

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