Weaving college-level English into winning capture themes

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Pete Nicholls
Weaving college-level English into winning capture themes - Susanne Sener

Episode Summary

Susanne Sener, the writer who loves to write, explains how clear proposal writing turns down the "noise" to turn up the "volume" on important proposal win themes.

 

EPISODE NOTES

    • How writing relates to various stakeholders in color team reviews
    • Problems that stem from people: New people not yet integrated into the bid team; the right people who review the proposal at the wrong stage, and people who do not understand the technology that supports the bid process today
    • Mistakes relating to compliance, and comments added during proposal development
    • The best win themes come from the best capture manager
    • How a writer who loves writing, yet is not Stephen King or a journalist, enjoys being a valued writer as part of a winning team.

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About Susanne Sener

* Susanne has worked full-time as a proposal writer since 2007.
* In her first 5 years she worked on over 200 proposals and is now up to about 500. Her specialty is past performance volumes.
* Susanne's background also includes 10 years as a US Air Force officer.
* She was originally hired as a proposal writer because of her experience teaching college-level English classes. Business Development management wanted someone who could weave capture themes into the past performance volumes.


 

FULL TRANSCRIPT: 

Pete

Greetings everyone, a very warm welcome to another edition of the proposal works podcast. We are talking with proposal experts who share real stories of how they win. I'm your host, Pete Nicholls, coming to you from a bit of a rainy Copenhagen today. It's a good day to be inside the studio and I'm joined by Susanne Sener.

So Susanne, a very good day to you. Where are you joining us from?

Susanne

I'm joining you from the top of a mountain in Colorado, uh, between Denver and Colorado Springs in the United States.

Pete

Beautiful. And you have some guests there. I can hear just vaguely. They might join us in the show at some stage, you have your a half cattle dog or a red heeler flurry, and we've got a couple of cockatiels there, coconut and Ananda

Susanne

Yes, I'm a rescue animal person. So those are my rescue animals and they're behind closed doors, but we may still hear them anyway. Yeah, absolutely. So, um, thank you to the audience for your forbearance, but I know we've all been in meetings where people have children interrupt and spouses and partners and con contractors. So more the merrier sometimes.

Pete

Absolutely. That's not even a thing anymore. It's just to get where we're in our homes and it's great. So for our listeners, if you haven't heard of Susanne Sener, Susanne has worked full-time as a proposal writer since 2007. And before that had a career of some 10 years as an officer in the US air force.

Now, Susanne, you've held several positions as a senior technical writer. And now in your current company where you've been for almost 20 years, you were originally hired there as a proposal writer because of your experience teaching college-level English classes. Now, as I understand it, the business development manager wanted someone who could weave capture themes into the past performance volumes. And so in your first five years there, you worked on over 200 proposals now to 500,

Susanne

About 500 I've lost count. I've actually stopped tracking. Yeah.

Pete

There's a point where counting kind of doesn't matter anymore, but I guess to call you a specialist,

Susanne

I've had different assignments in business development, including up to proposal manager, but it has always been my choice to stay as a proposal writer and that surprises a lot of people, they say, well, why didn't you move up or move over, move out or something like that. But it has been my choice. I was hired in, as you said, and, and you, you very summarized it very accurately. For the ability to weave in capture themes and to the past performance volume specifically, because too often past performance becomes just cut and paste a standard format. Here's our program, here's the PWS or the statement of the work description. Here's what we do and those into every proposal. And they did not want that, that all those years ago, the business development manager at the time has long since retired. Said we want to have capture themes in the past performance volume, and of course, into any other volume that I work on and we try to weave in ghosting themes, capture management themes, proposals, strategy, things, technical strategy all throughout the proposal. So that is absolutely correct. And I was hired, even though I did not have the technical capability, neither in it nor in facilities management at the time. And I frankly thought, why are you talking to me? He said, because you have been working as a writer, a freelance writer, you've been an English teacher.

And I thought, who wants an English teacher doing your I.T. bits, but it has actually worked out, I think. I don't want to speak for my company quite well. Uh, we are able to do that. And, and so that I think was a successful experiment.

Pete

Yeah. Well, certainly it's worked out to call you a specialist at past performance volumes. You've been doing this for some time. And so we're, we're going to dig into that. Yeah. Well, past 500 proposals. We'll explore some of the things you've raised there. Susanne, we have a title for today that the topic for our show is weaving college-level English into winning capture themes. So we're going to explore that now. Often when I host this show, my guest is a consultant who works with multiple companies in your roles Susanne, who is at this one company, who do you class as your clients, and what do they really want?

Susanne

That's a great question, Pete. And that was something I was thinking about is clients or audience structure and it's multilevel it's multi-tiered it crosses paths. I have an immediate supervisor who, again, because I'm not a consultant this person is my full-time employer. I don't go from employer to employer. I just stay with one company, but working with different companies, sometimes the immediate audience level is that supervisor or another company that we're subbing too. It is the color team review structure. It is bosses above that senior leadership.

It is, of course, the ultimately the evaluator who reads the proposal but what I always think of is who might also read the proposal, the meta-evaluation team. Because even though we might have a list of evaluators, we can't say that they're not going to either hand off the proposal to someone else or someone from even a higher level is going to come in and say, I want to see that.

Or one time I heard a long time ago, the proposal actually wound up on-site, on the site of the operations. So a lot of people were looking at it after it was awarded a long time after, but in other words, its life extended, even beyond the immediate evaluation of the award. It extended, whether we like it or not into the operational teams, seeing the proposal as well, it's just multilayered.

Pete

Hmm. So many stakeholders that you are satisfying in what you do and these winning capture themes. So when you think of the stakeholders that you've mentioned, whether it's a color team review yeah. I haven't come across it. Everyone has color team reviews and how they do their proposal process. So could you give me an example, maybe of one of those teams and what they really want from you typically?

Susanne

The company I work for it is very structured, very process-driven. We have a manual, we have processes that are very well entrenched, but also flexible, depending on what we're pursuing. So our color teams, generally, we're looking for different things at different stages. So for example, in an initial color team review, which different companies use different colors, yellow, pink, red, blue, silver. I don't even keep track of them anymore. They're there, they can cut a little comical when people start debating my blue versus your silver, but in an initial review, a proposal manager will, for example, set the standard that we are looking for compliance. In fact, we look through compliance for every color team review, but compliance.

We're looking for themes. We're looking for themes, we're looking for strategies, we're looking for differentiators. We're looking for, you know, the things that we discussed earlier on are now being seen in the narrative structure? So that's predefined. That usually continues throughout, but just different things are emphasized at different places.

Pete

That process I'm sure it holds things together where teams maybe haven't worked together before or on, on the same type of projects. So you have a process. We come back to the process. Tell me about the problems that you see, what are the types of problems that come up within those teams or within that process? And what does that look like?

Susanne

One of the things I was thinking about before today's session is, um, you know, the good points and the problems. I think that, again, as you said, the process holds the reviewers or holds the writers. It all holds us to a certain standard. Some of the problems we might say are understandable when we insert new people into the process, whether they're new, outside evaluators. New consultants to the company. They've never done this before. There's always expected to be a quote-unquote learning process or ramp-up time of which could be considered a problem because sometimes they interject all sorts of things into the review. But I think that that is kind of standard. Uh, another thing some companies experience is getting the right reviewers at the right time. You know,  and that can be a challenge, whether you're working as a consultant for a different company or for different companies or one company, you know, people get busy and so on and so forth. The kinds of reviewers are interjected at different times in the system. And, you know, sometimes it's maybe too soon to have shown it to the CEO of your company, at a very initial review, but for some companies, they have them all the way through it just depends. And we do have with the growth of technology. Sometimes we have people who aren't quite sure how to use the technology. I think most companies have gotten away from the old binders and hard copies and red pens. I remember that that's how we did all of our reviews at the time. Yes. Now, to a whiteboard type of formula, online whiteboard type of formula, whether it's a Microsoft SharePoint or whatever people use to do their reviews.

And that always has a ramp-up time for new reviewers. But fortunately, at the company I work for, we all are aware of these things and we all know they're going to happen. So I, and I think that's good for any company and any consultant going to work for companies that can anticipate what some of the challenges might be and be able to quickly mitigate them.

Pete

People being at the center of this by the sound of its Susanne. Good. Whether it's new people coming in or the people as the reviewers coming in, maybe at the times that aren't optimal for that particular level of review or the people who aren't comfortable with the technology. All about people. So let's explore that a little more in terms of the mistakes that are sometimes made. What kind of mistakes do people make in these processes and things that you've seen them try that just haven't worked out?

Susanne

Uh, a longtime writer, because that's always my perspective coming in as a writer and I've been a proposal manager, I've worked with capture managers, and I often come up with my own capture management themes. When I work with new capture managers. One of the things that is kind of funny to be is people's interpretation of the word compliance.

Sometimes it becomes, I don't agree with you therefore you are noncompliant with my way of looking at the world, or this is non-compliant to my view of how the industry works for whatever industry it is. So sometimes we get a kick out of how many non-compliances we are, and we have to explain to people, well, that's compliance against the RFP.

And like I said, it can get kind of entertaining sometimes when, you know, we have to look at it that way, because we do tally up non-compliance versus people who just, I prefer that you write the sentence this way, instead of, you know, something perhaps a little more serious. And then when we look at it, it's really not quite at the level that they think it is.

Those are some of the things that I see for reviewers coming in and inserting this and we treat review comments, their suggestions, but we do treat them with dignity and we do go back to a reviewer. If we have a, to have a discussion sometime.

Pete

The impact on the other people involved. I guess we've got someone waving the compliance flag and it's actually, they're talking about their own opinion by the compliance with the RFP.

And you mentioned the language and we're really getting to the core here of this college-level English that you bring Susanne. So let's unpack what you mean by this title, this waving college-level English into winning capture themes. Some real-life examples: how has this actually worked for you?

Susanne

With respect to this college level? Because I know that a lot of people don't have degrees and I don't mean this to be some pedantic type of discussion. It was more of what I realized when I came into the industry that a lot of the things I had been teaching to 17-year-olds apply mechanically and, you know, topic sentences, writing very clear lucid sentences, paragraph transitions. All the basic mechanics that now you can find out on the internet. And what's funny is that before our session, I went ahead and Googled, you know, college-level composition, just to see, because I was teaching in pre-internet days. And in early internet days and just to see what was out there. And of course, you know, is this the usual advice that's not even worth discussing here, but what I found out glaringly missing and something that I still consider is the audience analysis. I actually wrote to a couple of the top online sources that I went to. There was not one audience discussion. In their case, it would be the professor they're writing for the college instructor that they're writing for, and for us, it's a very critical component, and we blindly kind of say, oh, audience, we know who that is, but as you and I discussed at the beginning of the session, it's, multi-layered.

And it is amazing to me, how many times people who are new to the industry or they're writing a proposal for the first time, make this mistake because of the voice they're conveying and their narrative, and this is something I thought might be interesting. It really can be too much about themselves. And I was just recently reading somebody who's new to the industry, a new proposal writer. I'm not quite sure how they're introducing themselves. They had some flamboyant ways of structuring sentences. They had some pyrotechnics in there and it was really calling attention to themselves as writers and trying to prove how smart they are as writers or new consultants or what have you. And that's really not what we're looking for.

When we're calling attention to the writing rather than the content. I mean, the writing is the vehicle to express the content. When we call so much attention to the writing, it can take away from the content message and we know this, but it's amazing how many people seem to forget when they start getting into the keyboard and communicating their ideas.

Pete

That flamboyant writing style, Susanne, how did you handle the situation of bringing that around from what was probably viewed as a really good effort, and you had to then tactically deal with that. How did that work?

Susanne

It's funny and we all have different ways because let me just say that I work with several writers and we all kind of sound the same at this point in actually that's a good thing from a corporate perspective, we don't have to make a final one voice at the end of our proposals, because we all have adapted to that kind of one voice as we communicate.

Four or five, six writers. We all kind of sound alike. So that's a good thing. How did I handle the individual? Some of them are funny ones from many years ago and this person is not in the industry. And so I can talk about this. He really liked to quote famous people in his writing. And one of his favorites was Napoleon.

Well, you know, and we would eliminate that quote and say to him, you know, we'll understand, but that can be a very dangerous thing. You don't know who's reading this and now it's not the time. And he would continue to put the quotes in there and we would continue to extract them. That is an extreme example of someone who didn't remain in the industry, he also had very, very, very long unwieldy sentences. One of the ways we handle this is just to kind of have an informal chat with the person and say, we're, we're just really trying to convey information clearly. I had a student many years ago who said he was actually from a different country from Bulgaria. And he said, why are our essays in the United States at this institution written like police reports? Oh, that's not a bad analogy. I said at this point, we're just trying to get you to convey information clearly. And what is interesting is in the college composition, sometimes the higher grades are communicating their own personal, unique voice and how they do things.

Whereas in a corporate structure, that's not necessarily going to win you any points. You don't want to call attention to your writing. You also don't want to make the evaluator go through mental gymnastics. I, and this is something we don't really talk about very often. It's either intuitive to us as writers or it's counterintuitive, and we have to learn.

But if you're making your evaluator read a sentence a second time, or a third time, you flunked, at least on that sentence, you don't want to make your evaluator do mental gymnastics. And like I said, I was just recently reading an essay and that's what it sounded like I had to go back and read this person's narrative proposal narrative a couple of times in certain places and this person was fond of doing the, not if, but that type of structure. So you kind of had to do some gymnastics. That isn't what you want to do. Just very clear, straightforward lucid writing. Well-supported like we taught in good old English 1 0 1. Or if you want to use your high school English class, you know, as much as we kind of roll our eyes at good old, you know, five-paragraph college essays, that's not necessarily a bad place to start nor a bad place to continue.

When we start getting into flamboyant techniques and flamboyant in this industry, I'll say, you know, a lot of fragments or starting sentences with the word and or but or using exclamation points, all of which, by the way, I have recently seen from some very advanced people, people with resumes that are quite amazing, they're staggering actually.

There's a place for that in essay writing. So I'll, and I actually publish personal essays on the side and I've had people say you sound so different in those well we'll, that was for a different audience and a different medium something being published online so to speak rather than something that's going to be closely held in an evaluation committee and an evaluation team, kind of a long response.

Pete

So going back to that, the college-level English, considering the audience. And the different types of readers to kind of recap what I've heard there I've heard your rights, Susanne. Good writing is really clear, very clear almost to the point of where that's, um, it's startling in its clarity and simplicity.

However, they messaged it is not just playing generally. You've got a winning capture theme, so there's a richer message being delivered. Could you tell me about how we go from plain, simple to understand English through to a rich, differentiated capture theme?

Susanne

I think that's part of the art of being a good proposal and again, my background and my industry, I'm not doing a very high level of research and development. I'm not doing a weapons systems platform. I mean, there might be a place for something that is much more into a narrative voice, or what have you. I'm at facilities, maintenance level, boss proposals, basic proposals that I work in and we take a capture theme and then we weave it through.

It can impact how you structure, how you architect your narrative, what you want it. And I mean, architecture visually in the selection of graphics and selection of highlights box and selection of where you place the information, architecting it, where you want to focus. Where your impact is where you place this, where you ghost along with this strategy, there's quite a lot going on and I'll call that the art of it.

And that a lot of times comes with experience. And just knowing how to assemble information, to get your message upfront and to, I don't want to say hide, but put your subordinate other things that are not quite as representative of your client, that you're bringing forward their capabilities, so to speak.

Things that, you know, maybe your client, and I'm not talking about my own company here, but maybe your client is stronger in one area and not so strong in the other. And you're going to emphasize the area, of course, their core capabilities. Um, maybe if they've got a strong subcontractor team, you're going to emphasize that as well, but that it would be done in a clear manner.

You never want to call attention to how something is written. And that includes that I'm really still shocked when I work with other companies. Gosh, how much there's a reliance on that? Very empty rhetoric. Very empty. We all talk about, oh, don't use the adjectives in the adverbs and what shows up all the time, you know, the world-class and the exceptional and things that can't be substantiated.

And it's amazing how many times that shows up. And I think that's a lot of times, uh, and an experienced proposal writer, desperate. And I feel sorry for that. A desperate proposal writer, a desperate proposals team that thinks that if they built it, the scaffolding and it's very lightweight, it'll hold up but it's really just a deck of cards. Remove one of them, the whole thing collapses. And that's the point of a good hard review team and a rich review team that is not afraid of calling attention to that. And the writers who have to understand this isn't a personal attack. It really is the art and science of as you know, better than I do because you speak to more people directly.

You know, the proposal process as a whole and the people that are involved because we are with all the technology and all, we're not churning them out automated there are people still involved and maybe some companies can do them automated I don't know, but there are still people involved all the way through the process.

Pete

Certainly, the jury's out, I think, on, on where artificial intelligence is going to play a role here. No doubt it will play a role, but the closer we get to us, yes, the harder it is for AI to step into those shoes. As you said, the winning capture theme, that's where the art is. So I struggled with having an eye for art or walking into a modern art gallery and I think, Hmm, I'm not sure where the artist was coming from with that. I probably need to read the instructions, but what would you say has seen a lot of wins, winning capture themes, and being part of crafting that what's a characteristic of a winning capture theme.

Susanne

Winning capture manager. One of my greatest joys in this industry is working with a very strong capture manager who's been doing this for a while and you can see that even with junior people who are really good thinkers, even though they haven't been doing this for a while, they've been thinking for a while and they really have an analysis down. They know how to ghost, they know how to sell, you know, the winning strategy for the different companies..

Working with that is really one of my great joys is working with a capture manager who can pull that off and then being the person who's responsible for communicating that clearly, because as we know, some capture managers are terrific writers, but some are not, nor should they be writing it down. They should be tough communicators, right. In getting that information to us. And then it is absolutely the job of the proposal. Right. To bring that in. And it's amazing how many writers don't do that. And I consider that negligent or very junior. I understand a lot of junior people. They're just trying to figure out section L and M you know, let alone anything else.

I think a lot of the art of weaving in the capture strategy is having a very strong capture manager who wants to see it all the way through. And let's, you know, I, I worked with one, many years ago who came into my office said these are the top things, 10 things I want to see in your section. And they better be in there.

Okay. Yes, ma'am salute and carry on. And I'm happy with that. So I, anyone who's working as a capture manager, be strong and, and absolutely tell your writers. Here are the 10 things I want to see. Here's the theme I expect to see. I expect to see it on every fifth page. I expected to see it on every first page. I expect to see it. The more you communicate to your writers with clarity and strength on what you want to see, the better the results ought to be. And I say ought to be because you never know, again, back to people, right? Who's doing this? But when I work with someone who says, this is what I want to see and by now I've worked with some of my peers.

I've got to tell you it's been 15 years for some of them. We have been working together and that's okay. Anytime you've got an experienced team, whether it's firefighting or police force or military, uh, you know, uh, it's always, um, uh, a joy to work with people you've worked with before, you know, their strengths and their weaknesses. And I do enjoy working with strong patcher managers and communicating their themes and applying my own. I've been doing this long enough that I can come up with a lot of capture themes.

Pete

Do you find that you can do that with the newer capture managers or maybe the ones that you've worked with longer than that, that trusts you to contribute? How does that generally work for you?

Susanne

That's a really good question. I think a lot of times, generally speaking. We don't always, but some of the proposals we chase are very, very large acquisitions. They are really happy to work with a writer who says, well, you know, this has worked for us in the past. How about you consider this? So thank you. Thank you. Now I can focus on something over here. But I have worked with people who are quite junior or junior to the company or junior to capture management who, because they have such great analytical skills they see things very clearly and you just have to give them a little bit and they drive with it. And that's also as a teacher, one of the things that are so enjoyable to me now, as I'm getting towards the latter half, my career is seeing young, younger folks or more people who are more junior and really being able to pick up the ball and run with it with a minimum amount of information that's provided to them.

And I do like to see people flourish. I have seen people go from very junior people hired into very senior people hired in or hired two different positions and seeing them carry forward in their career. And that as a writer is very rewarding to me because I might be an unusual person that you're talking to Pete.

I'm not quite sure who's happy at this point in her career. This is where I came in in 2007 and I have kind of personally progressed and I think I've progressed in the company doing good work for them, but I'm not trying to be the CEO of the company. I am really happy where I am, and I know that that is kind of an unusual thing.

Although seeing how pandemic has impacted people, there are a lot of people who are saying, you know, Work-life balance. And this is the position I'm in I've gone from being a teacher to, you know, there's a funny saying that those who can't do teach, which I actually disagree with, but I went from being a teacher and realizing I'm not really cut out for this, to doing work as a career writer and enjoying it very much and saying, no, I don't want to do anything else. This, this is, this is where I am in the industry. And I'm quite happy to be.

Pete

Brilliant. So for those who prefer not to teach it, it's better to do.

Susanne

You know, we're not all gifted teachers. It's funny because both of my parents were teachers and they were gifted teachers, but particularly my mother was a very gifted teacher. My father, not so much, wanted to do it. And just happier teaching by way of working with the team and being a good visual contributor on a team. I think that is, I mean, no, that's not the focus of this podcast, but I'm glad to be out of the formal classroom.

Pete

The challenges that you've faced and Susanne, because you had 10 years with the air force as well. Could we touch on challenges that you've personally faced and what you've learned from that?

Susanne

What a good question. I'm glad I was in the air force for 10 years, I had more of a nontraditional career. I wound up going to graduate school. That was a soul selection and then I wound up being a teacher in the military. And again, this kind of more non-traditional one of the funny challenges of getting into government contracting is how many people I've talked to that made an assumption back in 2003, or whenever I transferred out that I never served in the military.  And I actually, rather than correct them, I would just let them continue on.

And it was always interesting to me to understand their position, uh, as a, um, former military officer, whatever they were beforehand because I didn't give up, they just assumed I had never served. And that kind of led to some funny and good learning experiences as well. We won a lot of awards for hiring military veterans and hiring former veterans and how many people just assumed I had not served.

Pete

And the fact that you hadn't mentioned that I guess you get a different perspective from them than how they would have otherwise shaped what they told you.

Susanne

I did, and sometimes I would correct them early on, but then I realized it was a lot more fun and I was learning a lot more, but just not saying anything and letting them speak to me. And conversely, I did work with one of the writers who recently retired. He was a male who hadn't served in the military and he said, most people in the company assumed that he had. You know, and I don't want to get into that kind of male, female time of dis type of discussion, but he wouldn't correct and I didn't correct them that I had served. So it was interesting to me. It was a learning experience. If I just kept my mouth quiet and kind of listen to their perspective on their military service. Because every time we go after a proposal opportunity, whether it's a branch of the service I didn't serve in.

So, you know, that's part of you know, we learn so much more by listening sometimes than talking, even though I know conversely, in a podcast on doing more talking than listening, I do think sometimes it's served me better to just listen.

Pete

Absolutely and I've enjoyed this session because I'm learning, I've learned a great deal of Susanne and to get the perspective from you of how you led to why you now do what you do. Tell me, what is it about what you do, Susanne, that you find most fulfilling?

Susanne

I am actually able to make a living as a writer. And if we put aside the Stephen Kings of the world, most writers are not able to do that. And I never knew that this was a career option for me. I was in nothing but an English major and with all due respect to English majors, I just don't think that an English major in college. And when I went to school, which was much more affordable back in the early eighties, you could work as a waitress, as I did as a waitress. And I went to school, to college, and I studied all sorts of things that I was just curious about the world and a lot of literature courses and people would say to me, how are you going to make a living?

What in the world are you going to do? And I wound up going into the military. I was very happy that I did so, but all along, I had no idea as naive as that may sound. That this universe existed and that I could actually make a living as a writer. And I think that has been one of the most satisfying aspects to me, also working as an individual contributor that I can do well and, and be a good teammate without having to have a goal of managing the team.

It's just not a skill set that I have. I've done it. I'm not really good at it. And I think there's been a level of self-awareness that at least at the company I work with. Has never pressured me to do anything other than be a writer. It is really joyful to me to be able to see the lessons that I learned as a teacher, good, clear writing, being well-rewarded in the industry, as far as winning, you know, and again, pricing all those things, factors are there, but at some level, we can't just turn our backs and say it wasn't at least part of the win was a good, strong proposal. Was a good, strong narrative that the evaluators found compelling enough because we all know if it had been a bad narrative, non-compliant poorly written something they can't get through. We may not have made it to the competitive table. So to me that's very, very rewarding is seeing writing and it's important because. Yeah, barely what I was teaching as a teacher, I would often work with students who would sit there and say, what good is this going to do for me in my life? And I say to them, well, I hope you never have to talk to an attorney or somebody, you know, and, and have to communicate clearly or do a job application.

I said, because there, there may be a time when writing has value in your life only to find out many years later, not only did that prove out, but for my own life, it became my living that I was able to make a living as a corporate writer, but as a writer, that's what it says on my taxes. That's what it said for many years and that is actually very rewarding to me, as I assume it is for many others who make their living. I was just talking to a person who's in a similar situation to me, I said, why is it that with all your experience, you didn't want to be a proposal manager. She said I'm just happy to be around. She was also a teacher many years ago. And now she is professionally working as a writer and she doesn't want to be a proposal manager. She's happy where she is.

Pete

I'm so pleased. You shared that because I know folks who have wanted to choose writing as a career option. So it's kind of like, well, option a, I try to become Stephen King or, well then what else are you going to do? You probably need to become a journalist. It's like writing a novel or being a journalist and journalism now. That industry is in such a state. So, yeah,

Susanne

I agree. It is in such a state. I actually knew when I was in college and took my first journalism type of class, that it wasn't for me. And I'm so glad personally that I didn't pursue it, but you're right, what do you do to become a technical writer? Well, if you're not very technical, you're only gonna go so far. And I really did hit my Peter principle on that. So I was just so thrilled that this opportunity opened up. And I didn't know about it. And so now I tell other people you really can make a career, a living, have a life as working as a writer and working as a team member and it's just so rewarding to me to see people who are so intelligent. So skilled, many of them are very skilled in it or whatever. There are others focusing on writing and even down to the line level to the level of the word. And even when they get into debates, to me, that's rewarding to see the value of clear communications in our industry. In our society overall, I guess I sound either naive or right, but it's just very rewarding to me.

Pete

I could see that you love it. You love to write and congratulations on finding this position of doing what you do, where you're adding tremendous value to the team. What I'd like to leave our call with today, then Susan.

What valuable tip or resources, anything that you'd like to share with the audience, maybe for somebody who is heading down a writing path and you want to give them some advice. You've also shared an article that I'll put in, on winning the business. You wrote the 10 tips on getting the most from your proposal writers.

So we'll, we'll share that as well. What would you like to leave us with today as a typical resource for the listeners?

Other than saying, 'keep going' I would say, use as many opportunities as you can to develop your writing skills. I've written some marketing information. I've published personal essays. I've published a little bit of fiction. I've been a technical writer. I think the more you can broaden your base of writing. It makes you a better proposal writer.

And frankly, I think that's a very good foundation for people who want to be proposal managers. Capture managers is beyond, is to have a very strong base in communication skills. In writing across a spectrum of different industries. And I think that was very helpful to me because I am able to rapidly adjust to different requirements.

And I tell them that, yeah, you really can make a living. Right. So writer, as you can tell mom and dad that I didn't waste my time with this journalism degree or this English teacher degree, or what have you and hopefully if that helps somebody there is a place for them. Then that is rewarding to me as well.

It's been a pleasure hosting this session with you, Susanne. And if our listeners would like to reach out and get in contact with you, what's the best way for people to connect with you?

Susanne

By all means, I encourage them to do so, and through LinkedIn, that is probably the best way to communicate with me. I don't do a whole lot of social media. I know a lot of people don't, but I am on LinkedIn, and Pete has been delightful talking to you. I have never done a podcast before and I really enjoyed it, and I appreciate your very, very good questions. It's been really enjoyable.

Pete

Thank you, Susanne. I've really enjoyed it. And I've learned a lot by listening here as well. So thank you so much for your time.

Susanne

Hopefully, my animals weren't too intrusive,

Pete

I'm kind of disappointed we didn't get attacked by a flurry of birds and dogs in the back. We should have kept them in the room. Thank you. Okay.

Susanne

Bye. Bye.

 

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