Reilly attended the wonderful WOW Roscommon Business Summit in Athlone on Tuesday last. Purely for market research purposes he asked a number of the business people attending what their business or product did for their customers.

Not one of them could tell Reilly succinctly why they exist as a business and how they help their customers. 

He genuinely feared he might miss the rugby the following Saturday such was the length, complexity and obfuscation of their responses.

Reilly was interested to learn this week that a recent study found goldfish now have a longer attention span than humans.  Nine seconds for the fish compared to eight for the humans. 

It proves conclusively yet again the importance of nailing your business messages.

Imagine the power therefore of being able to describe the value of your business or brand or product in just six words!

Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in six words. His response was…

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.’

Macabre and all as his response was consider its power and impact.  There’s an entire story embedded in those six words – very likely a tragic one. 

If it’s possible to tell an entire story in six words, can the same be said of an entire life, or maybe a business or product or service?

The answer according to a book called ‘One Life. Six Words. What’s Yours?, is a resounding yes.

Here are some examples of some well known people and their six-word stories:

The author of the above book, Larry Smith, describes himself as…

Half Jewish, Half Italian, Fully Stuffed.’

Frank McCourt, the Limerick author of ‘Angela’s Ashes,’ described his life as…

The miserable childhood led to royalties.’

Chris Sacca – entrepreneur, venture capitalist, Shark Tank investor – says…

Good stories always beat good spreadsheets.’

Sara Blakely, the billionaire founder of Spanx, the shapewear (Reilly loves that word) business counselled us to…

‘Trust your gut, shape your butt.’

William Shakespeare – poet, playwright and actor – said…

To be, or not to be?’

Because he’s Shakespeare, he’s allowed two…

To thine own self be true.

Zak Nelson poignantly described life without his partner…

I still make coffee for two.’

Don Colleran, away at the World Cup in France, emailed his excuse for not doing the exercise…

If I only had seven words!’ 

And a good friend of Reillys had a lucky escape…

Golf. Lost to boss. Saved job.’

Reilly plans on putting the entire Smácht community through the business six-worder next week and decided to try it out for size with his new 10 day old grandson. Finn took to it like a duck to water.

I plan to make Grandad proud,’ he said kindly.

It so overwhelmed Reilly that he immediately went out and bought him a massive present. Just shows you the awesome power of six-worders. 


At the WOW Business Summit, Reilly bumped into his old client and buddy, Bobby Kerr, who graciously acknowledged the value of the time management programme Reilly had done for him in 1992 when Bobby was MD of Campbell Bewley.

What stuff are you doing for the punters these days,’ says Bobby casually.

I’m helping people in business ‘THINK BIG. ACT NOW. KEEP SCORE’ says Reilly without batting an eyelid.

‘Wow. That sounds intriguing. Would you come on ‘Down to Business’ on Newstalk when I return from the World Cup? I have 120,000 listeners who could really do with hearing about that.

Bobby, can the Pope say Mass?’, says Reilly, marvelling yet again at the power of the business six-worder. 


Her kindness is her favourite superpower.

—Sara Moke


Your Life. Six Words. What’s Yours?
Your Business. Six Words. What’s Yours?
Your Products. Six Words. What’s Yours?


If your business would benefit from thinking bigger, acting now, and keeping score please contact Pádraic on to discuss joining a Smácht programme now. Courses close this week.

Choose and benefit from Pádraic Ó Máille services: Smacht Programme, Keynote Speaker, Business Coaching, Business Mentoring, and One-to-One Coaching.

What’s more, join a Smácht Mastermind group. Learn how to become more decisive and take responsibility for making a difference in the world. Book a call today.

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