Write To Influence – Carla D. Bass, Colonel, USAF (Ret)

“If you learn how to write powerfully, it unlocks the doors to opportunities.” Carla Bass

One of the skills that can turn out to be a superior advantage in any career is effective writing. Considered to be an essential life skill, writing makes a great difference in one’s ability to convey information, a key factor that drives successful careers. Our guest today, Carla bass, found the power of writing early on in her career in the military, and says that it is the key to influencing powerful outcomes.

Carla D. Bass is a retired Air Force colonel and author of the book “Write to Influence!” which has won eight national-level awards. The ability to write powerfully was central to her success. Throughout her 45-year career (30 years in the Air Force and 15 with a federal agency), she composed products for Congress, the White House, generals, and ambassadors; hundreds of performance reviews; budget justifications; award nominations; and executive memoranda.

As a lieutenant colonel, Carla transformed her 480-person unit from the most losing in state-wide professional competitions into the one to beat. How? She developed her writing methodology and taught her troops to compose compelling nominations. So successful was her program that she taught thousands of Air Force members for the next 15 years – to rave reviews.

She now teaches workshops to clients that include government agencies, corporations, private businesses, NGOs, and academia. The second edition of “Write to Influence!” incorporates material from her highly acclaimed workshops. These include material that covers powerful writing to banish bureaucratic blather (for the workforce) to composing resumes, input for performance reviews, grant submissions, and essays for college applications.

Carla’s battle cries are twofold: “Powerful writing changes lives!” and “Powerful writing is the lifeblood of effective organizations!”

In today’s episode, Carla talks about how writing opened opportunities for her and many others while she was working for the military. She will also highlight how she helps others tap into the power of good writing.

Listen in!

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  • I was the child of a military family and I decided when I was in seventh grade that I was going to join Air Force intelligence. [3:24]
  • My father was at that point an Air Force officer intelligence and since I couldn’t ask him what he was doing, I decided I will join it myself to find out. [3:50]
  • One of the proudest day of my life is when my father Colonel Sand Bass gave me the oath of office and at that point he was a veteran and had had a bad stroke. [4:58]
  • In my 30 years, I served in many places and Bulgaria was fascinating because I was the first female defense attache for 3 years representing all of America’s military to our Bulgarian counterparts. [5:31]
  • When my father commissioned me, he gave three pieces of advice; stay focused on the job, always keep your sense of humor and always take care of your people, and they will take care of you. [7:19]
  • My becoming an entrepreneur goes back to Hawaii, when I transform the most losing unit into the one to beat and it was a pivotal point for me. [7:46]
  • I realized that powerful writing changes lives after I took a couple of days and developed my writing methodology which helped us transform the unit into the one to beat. [8:03]
  • I ended up teaching that one hour writing workshop for the next 15 years to 1000s of people. [8:50]
  • By the time I retired I had received so many testimonials from people who said my writing had benefited their entire federal career. [9:02]
  • I realized that I have something that works and It’s proven and so I have to keep sharing it. [10:10]
  • If you learn how to write powerfully, it unlocks the doors to opportunity. [11:34]
  • People and organizations fail to achieve their goals because of ineffective writing. [13:23]
  • It is important to gain the critical edge by learning how to write products that are concise and compelling. [13:34]
  • Commercial break. [13:50]
  • I love teaching workshops and with COVID, I had to do great with webinars and I cover a multitude of programs. [15:14]
  • I’ve got one hour webinars on powerful writing for professionals or even fiction writers spend the captivating tale because every word counts. [16:07]
  • Every author is constrained by two things, the readers time and available space and therefore the writer who best leverages his time and space wins. [16:32]
  • What I teach you how to do is make every word count, and every second of the readers time play to your advantage. [17:11]
  • It is a two-step process involving the strategies on how you arrange the logic of your presentation of your case, and the word sculpting tools. [17:27]
  • The big mistake that people make in writing resumes is failing to know the audience and ensuring that every word spoken is addressing the needs of the employer. [18:26]
  • Two important tips when writing a proposal include adding details on the how and the what as well as the impact of what you have done. [19:52]
  • Another mistake people make is to think that the first draft is [21:43]
  • Writing is like either chess or poker because it involves strategy and once you look at it from those angles, all of a sudden it is not so intimidating. [23:59]
  • I have 10 word sculpting tools. One of which is verbs are your friends use them or rely on them and avoid using many words to suffocate the verb. [24:30]
  • By sculpting out all of those useless words and redundancies, you not only tighten up the text, but you buy yourself more strategic opportunity. [25:54]
  • Tool number two is called not to use words that hogs space to go from writing fat, to writing skinny. [26:56]
  • Word sculpting tool number ten Is revise, edit, and proofread and these are three distinct functions, each with a separate list of criteria for which you search. [29:27]
  • Learning to write powerfully is a life skill which need to be taught and passed down young adults because they’re not getting it in school. [31:36]


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