The founder of Syntax Training helps people from Puget Sound and around the world be more effective business communicators.
BUSINESS WRITING EXPERT
What do you do? I help employees and managers write better, here in Puget Sound and across the globe. I teach in-person and online business writing classes, give presentations, write a blog on business writing, and produce a monthly e-newsletter called “Better Writing at Work.” All this happens through a two-person company, Syntax Training, which I run with my husband, Michael Johnston.
How did you get started in that field? I majored in English and got my master’s degree in communication. After teaching in a high school and a vocational training program, I landed a job as an employee trainer and then a contract as a coach to executives who had lost their jobs. Those experiences inspired me to become a consultant specializing in business writing classes. My first client was Seattle Children’s Hospital.
What’s a typical day like? My work travels can be as close as Tacoma or as far as Luxembourg. When not teaching, I start with a cup of tea and my to-do list. It typically includes preparing for classes, emailing clients, posting to social media, and a swim or water-exercise class. I usually have one big project to work on. Right now, it’s a curriculum for college instructors.
What’s the best part of the job? I love being my own boss. I get to make my own decisions, set my schedule, and say no to work that doesn’t fit my skills and interests. I’m not completely independent — Michael and I are business partners — but together we create the work life we want. A traditional job would have provided more benefits and security, but independence won out with us.
What surprises people about your work? People are surprised to learn that business writing is a hot subject. My blog gets 500,000+ hits monthly, and I receive queries from people around the world. This week an auditor in Ohio and an English teacher in Iran sent questions. My work online has a huge audience of people wanting to communicate better in English. It’s gratifying to be able to help them.
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