“It's like saying we're going to make some improvements in the Titanic after it's hit the iceberg," said mortgage finance expert Guy Cecala today in characterizing the futility of government attempts to fix the current home mortgage finance system rather than, as Paul Volcker suggested, “reconstruct” it.
What dramatic, apt comparison can you offer to make your characterization:
1. Stand out from others?
2. Be the most frequently repeated?
3. Establish the criteria by which others decide on that topic?
Tips to creating a credible, quotable comparison
A. Compare your point of view to something or someone familiar.
A Cuban, after apologizing because he could not offer his guests anything to eat, described the results of Castro’s Revolution: “ The three successes were education, healthcare and sports. Three failures were breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
“I call architecture frozen music.” ~ Johann Wolfgag von Goethe
B. Evoke a vivid, mental picture.
“Ten times as much funding is devoted to research on the prevention of male baldness as malaria, a disease that kills more than 1 million people each year.” ~ Bill Gates on the need for creative capitalism to serve more people.
C. Say it briefly so it can be easily remembered and repeated as you said it.
“We can bail out the economy – we cannot bail out the environment.” ~ John Doerr, partner, Kleiner, Perkins Caufield & Byers
D. Make it aspirational – compared to something they’d want to gain – or avoid.
What are some of your favorite characterizations?
I can’t help but end with two inadvertently humorous characterizations of situations. While others probably repeated what they said, it is probably to their chagrin.
1. “Those who are not imprisoned are often arrested for possession of small quantities of drugs and later released — in some cases with a permanent stain on their records that can make it difficult to get a job or start a young person on a path to future arrests,” ~ An unnamed prison reform advocate.
2. "The top half of the students are well-educated, the bottom half receive extra help, but the middle half we are leaving out." ~ Marcia Neal, candidate for the state Board of Education and a retired schoolteacher.