Raise Your Flag: Writing Your Personal Manifesto

By Stephen Dupont, vice president, Pocket Hercules

In the world of advertising and marketing, position statements are a critical part of the process of developing marketing direction. A position statement clearly articulates what a brand stands for — who it’s for and why it’s unique or different.

A manifesto, however, is like a position statement on steroids. It’s written not so much to state what is, but to express, in emotional terms, how a brand is transformational. A manifesto statement builds on the position statement, bringing together the vision, values and passion of the brand.

So if we can apply a manifesto to a brand, why not apply it to you?

To begin writing a manifesto statement, the best place to start is to answer this simple, yet complex question: “Why do I do what I do?”

Before you race to your computer, I urge you to go old school: grab a spiral bound notebook and find a quiet place, without distractions, where you can just think. Then, start writing. And write, and write and write. As you think about why you do what you do, respond to these questions, as well:

  • Why did you get into the business you’re in?
  • Who has significantly influenced you in your career decisions? A teacher, a parent, a coach, a mentor, a boss?
  • What inspires you?
  • What are you fascinated by?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What are you grateful for in your life?
  • What kind of projects do you find irresistibly cool?
  • What mountain would you most like to climb next?
  • What kinds of projects have you worked on where everything just seems to naturally flow?
  • Who do you think it would be cool to work with?
  • What good do you enjoy doing for others or for the world?
  • What makes you different from others who share the same title as you?
  • If you weren’t there, what would your organization or clients miss?

As all of powerful, inspirational thoughts come to mind, you must use this time to drill deep into the things you hate, fear or are holding you back from reaching your next destination. Consider these questions, as well:

  • Who don’t you want to work for or with?
  • What types of practices do you refuse to entertain or conduct?
  • What types of organizations (or specific companies or industries) do you refuse to work for or represent?
  • What policies or actions by an organization will you not have anything to do with?

The point of writing your personal manifesto is not be Charlie Brown wishy-washy. You’re taking your flag – YOUR flag – to the top of the mountain and firmly planting it there for all to see. Your manifesto not only represents where you’ve been and where you hope to go, but where you stand today, and why who you are and what you do for others matters.

Start by completing this sentence: “I, your name, stand for….” After you write your initial draft, refine it. This may take two, three or more drafts. Try to get it down to 500 words. Even less would be better. Think of it as your elevator speech that describes your career and your approach to life.

Then, after you have a draft that you feel really good about, show it to five people you like, know and trust and ask for brutal, raw feedback. Ideally, look for people outside of your immediate family for this stage. Your parents, siblings and spouse are biased and may only feel comfortable in accentuating the positives. What you need here is truth. Because for a manifesto to fuel your drive to conquer the career peaks in the years ahead, it needs to be authentic. That’s the moment of truth you’re seeking.

Take whatever feedback you receive, revise your manifesto, and then post it somewhere you can read it everyday, whether that’s the table by your bed, the fridge or on the desktop of your laptap or tablet.

Then, start living it.

Stephen Dupont is VP of Public Relations and Branded Content for Pocket Hercules (www.pockethercules.com), a Minneapolis advertising, PR and digital marketing firm. To reach him, visit www.LinkedIn.com/in/stephendupont or stephendupont.co.

 

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