Home > People > WHUFFIESPEAK: Tara Hunt Is Not Just Talking Whuffie

WHUFFIESPEAK: Tara Hunt Is Not Just Talking Whuffie

WHUFFIESPEAK:

I interviewed Tara Hunt to learn more about the person behind the writing that has intrigued, inspired and entertained me. Not surprisingly the list of questions, tabbed copy of The Whuffie Factor and tape recorder were overkill. As soon as Tara spoke, I relaxed. Why? Whuffiespeak.

I discovered Tara Hunt before I knew what Whuffie meant, nor did I even know her name was Tara Hunt. I knew only that Miss Rogue (Tara’s Twitter handle) literally speaks her own language – precisely why I wanted to learn more about her.  Tara writes and speaks with informal, unconventional and sometimes made-up words and phrases: rawk, huzzah, lurve. Her blog is named HorsePigCow. Her recently new book, The Whuffie Factor, is about building something called Whuffie, or “the residual outcome–the currency–of your reputation”.  My reaction was, as Tara would say, W.T.F. (What the f**k)?

Tara’s language, which I call Whuffiespeak, personifies Tara Hunt.  Whuffiespeak is accessible, inclusive, honest, humble, contagious and has a killer sense of humor. It is ingrained in all realms of Tara’s professional and personal communication.  Creating new language is nothing new. Remember Pig Latin?  Most industries have also developed their own languages.  What is unique about Whuffiespeak is Tara’s use of it and her recognition of its value.

Tara explains the incorporation of Whuffiespeak into corporate settings as if it were almost an accident (Imagine, oops, my personality is showing). As she explains, she began dropping a couple of words in meetings and realized that these words engaged her listeners, caught their attention, and, what’s more, others began to use the words themselves.  Whuffiespeak went corporate.

Don’t get me wrong, industry-specific language is necessary to communicate in many, if not most, corporate settings.  Industry-specific language, however, can keep outsiders just that, outsiders.  There are times when personalizing language, as Whuffiespeak does, improves communication and the level of engagement.  Communication flows when you use words that inspire a clear, emotional connection, rather than industry-specific, formulaic words that can complicate simple ideas.  For example, if you say that a website ‘rawks’, your colleagues will understand exactly what you mean.  If you discuss a website in technical terms, however, you may be expressing the same level of approval without the enthusiasm or sincerity.  Letting out a “Huzzah!” lets your colleagues know how you really feel in your gut, far more effective than saying, “The user interface is very nice.”  It’s the difference between a form letter and a handwritten letter.

Tara’s first book, The Whuffie Factor, 320 pages of scrumptious Whuffiespeak, is finally out and available online and in bookstores. Technology, innovation and social media thought leaders, including Seth Godin, Howard Rheingold and Tom Kelley, have praised The Whuffie Factor, and Amazon’s customers also get it.  On average, readers give The Whuffie Factor five stars (out of five).  The book appeals to a wide range of audiences.  My guess is that Whuffiespeak is not going away anytime soon.

I am not advocating that Whuffiespeak become a universal language.  I am  pointing out the value of finding your own language and not being afraid to use it in both personal and professional settings.  We often hear about authors’ finding their voices, but isn’t it equally important for professionals to find their own language rather than blindly adopt a common language?  If we don’t create our own languages and forms of expression, aren’t we simply reading from the same scripts?

Tara’s example of expressing herself in her own language encouraged me to take action. I cast aside my belief in maintaining a rigid distinction between my personal and professional identities. I speak, write, blog and tweet publicly in one voice. Rather than maintaining multiple identities, I am creating my own version of Whuffiespeak, and, trust me, it rawks.

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