[Official "Smarter Wine" logo etc.]
At Stormhoek, the wine company I work for, our basic schtick is this philosophy we call "Smarter Wine". This is what Mark Earls would call the "Purpose-Idea" of the company; i.e. the reason we get out of bed in the morning and go to work every day. Here are some thoughts on what Smarter Wine means, in no particular order:
1. Smarter Wine does not imply that we’re “smarter” than anywhere else. It’s an ideal that we aspire to, not that we embody. The idea is not something Stormhoek will ever "own", like a tagline in an ad campaign. It's an idea I think EVERYBODY in the trade should get their head around, be they makers, sellers or buyers, large or small. But hey, I would say that.
2. Everyone’s definition of “smarter” will be different. I’m OK with that. To me, it means continually engaging the customer at a higher level, continually raising the bar.identified four keywords that will govern the future of the advertising business. About as succinct a list as I've ever seen:
Blurry. Useful. Interesting. Always In Beta."Always In Beta” is a popular term in Silicon Valley. In an ideal world, it would be equally popular in the wine trade as well. It's unfortunate that this is not the case.
4. A word people like using in the wine trade is "innovation". Some companies pay it only lip service, some companies actually try to embrace it full-on. But it's harder than it looks. Wine is one of the oldest products in the world; change happens slowly and with great reluctance. Sure, putting wine in funky-dunky plastic or aluminum bottles might be technically "innovative", but does the average wine customer actually want that? A more interesting question for me is how the wine connects with people on an emotional and intellectual level. That to me is where the real action is.
5. Big ideas start out as little ideas, and lots of them. What do companies like Apple, Nike, Innocent Drinks and Starbucks have in common? Superficially, very little. But one thing you'll notice about them is that they're constantly coming up with new stuff. Constantly trying out new ideas, seeing what happens, and if it doesn't work out, they move on quickly. Their schtick is all about taking frequent small steps in the right direction, as opposed to betting the farm on the annual Superbowl ad. Creating a constant stream of "Social Objects". We take a similar approach at Stormhoek [We're a small wine company, frankly, so we have no other choice]. Different branding ideas, different cartoon label ideas, different sponsorship and PR ideas. On one level it's a highly unpredictable way to go about it. On another level, it's amazing how certain we are that SOMETHING good comes out of it eventually.
6. Eighty per cent of vineyards in the world do not make a profit. Eighty. Per. Cent. Other fun stats: There are 50 countries in the world that have wine industries. Italy alone has 500,000 vineyards. Sicily has ten times the vineyards as Napa Valley. Conclusion: The competition is off the scale. Besides making good wine [obviously], the only way forward is to somehow figure out, by any means necessary, how to rise above the clutter. The only way to do this is to speak to people in a way our industry has never spoken to them before.
7. I am not a wine expert. I am not a wine snob. I am not a wine bore. I am not even a wine geek. When I think of the business I'm in, I do not think of the vineyards, the lifestyle porn that's famously attached to the industry, the "hummingbirds gathering nectar in the morning dew" palaver. My thoughts are more prosaic. I think about a person pushing a shopping cart through a supermarket, a teacher or a nurse, perhaps, who's there buying food because she's cooking spaghetti for her boyfriend that evening, who just wants a good bottle of wine for under ten dollars to go with it. Her needs, as simple and basic as they are, interest me FAR MORE than satisfying the vast sea of social pretentions that lives inside the wine trade.
8. Not everybody inside the trade will "get" the Smarter Wine idea. In marketing terms, it not that big a deal. As Oscar Wilde once quipped, "A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies."
[Manifesto submission guidelines are here.] [Manifesto archive is here.]
I. The public is the Lord thy God
Ultimately you can only succeed if your communications produce results, which shall be known as return on investment, by reaching the greater public. This can only be achieved only if your product doesn’t suck and your communications are not only clear, but also interesting.
Verily, if you can become a useful source of information, your message may be heeded, or at least looked at ever so briefly.
IX. Thou shalt not refuse to comment when thy company is under fire.
Diggeth a hole and put in thy head only if thy care not that thy brand image will then turn to do do. “No comment” is a fine phrase for royalty, criminals and celebrities, but not so great for corporations who have a responsibility to shareholders, clients and consumers.
Unfortunately, in difficult situations it may be impossible for representatives to tell the media the whole truth. Try thee to be honest about which subjects thou wilt be able to talk frankly about and which you may find difficult to comment upon.
In accordance with the sixth tenet, it’s better to give a concise response that is straight to the point, than one that is evasive, lengthy and obviously spun.
Saw this one from Josh. Beautiful:
How to be creative in architectureThanks for the mention as well, Josh. But it would've been just as good without me in there etc.
Being an architect in and of itself is supposedly a creative endeavor. But, it's not. The business model, the approach - not creative. It has become a commodity. Architects undercut each other to the point of insanity, creating a "low-baller's profession". The good architects transcend all of this. Joe Schmoe will not undercut Daniel Libeskind. You have to be creative, not just in your designs, but in your approach and mentality.
* Understand that anybody can be an architect. Being an architect is different from being "the" architect. It's worth your time to become "the".
* Understand your strengths. Know how good you are, and demand that people recognize it. The best of the best demand the best, while the everyone else takes what they can get.
* "Your plan for getting your work out there has to be as original as the actual work, perhaps even more so. The work has to create a totally new market. There's no point trying to do the same thing as 250,000 other young hopefuls, waiting for a miracle. All existing business models are wrong. Find a new one." Thanks, Hugh.
* Don't even think for a second that you will be discovered. Architecture is not really a "discovered" kind of profession, but to an extent, some people think waiting around to be noticed for being exceptional will happen to them. No, it won't. You're not an actor. Your plan has to be unique. Do something different.
* Don't be afraid to change. The world is changing, are you? When it comes down to the come down, what will stay with you throughout your career is how you help other people, and how many people trust you.
* Evangelize the profession. Do not bitch and moan about architecture and how terrible the pay is. You decide what you get paid, as stated above. It makes architecture look bad. Do something that is good for the profession, and you will be heralded.
* This is not your grandfather's architecture. It's not 1890. We need to move forward. Do something about it. Think about your heroes...did they regurgitate the same old stuff? The guys at the top of this field in 25 years will not be thinking about the "new" same old skyscraper. Are you capable of being somebody's hero?
* Realize that any creative endeavor will be subject to scrutiny. Do it for yourself. Nobody will care about you until you are OK with what you are doing.
* "The best way to get approval is not to need it." So very true in so many ways.
* Don't be a hermit. Get to know people. Help them.
* Not everyone will understand the power of good architecture. It's your job to make them understand.
Very cool. I think it's wonderful. Heads up to Superha for pointing me to it [She's got a great little Mommy blog, by the way. Ashley's a real cutie...].
Yes. I like kids, believe it or not.
Many thanks to Guy Kawasaki, one of my "writer heroes" for saying such nice things about "How To Be Creative", which he recently read for the first time.
Thanks again, Guy...
[P.S. I wrote HTBC in Summer 2004, but as you can see from Technorati, it's still doing the rounds.]
Random thoughts on being an entrepreneur.
I wouldn’t say I was an authority on entrepreneurship, certainly not in the same league as people like Fred Wilson or Jason Calacanis. That being said, the last couple of years haven’t been too shabby, either. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts I have on the subject, in no particular order. The list, by the way, is far from complete- I'll probably be adding to it sooner than later etc.1. Everything takes three times longer than it should. Especially the money part.
2. The best way to get approval is not to need it.
3. People want what they can’t have. In fact, that’s pretty much all they do want.
4. Once you become an entrepreneur, you find the company of non-entrepreneurs a lot harder to be around. You’ve seen things they haven’t; the wavelengths alter, it’s that simple.
5. In a world of over-supply and commodification, you are no longer paid to supply. You’re being paid to deliver something else. What that is exactly, is not always obvious.
6. Word of mouth is the best advertising medium of all. The best word of mouth comes from disrupting markets.
7. People buy your product because it helps fill in the narrative gaps in their lives.
8. You can either be cheapest or the best. I know which one I prefer.
9. Some people think that once they secure venture funding, their problems will be over. Wrong. That’s when your problems REALLY begin.
10. It’s better to be underfunded than overfunded.
11. If an average guy in a bar can understand what you do for a living, chances are you’re halfway to becoming a commodity.
12. It’s easier to turn an ally into a customer than vice versa.
13. If you’re happy in your career before the age of thirty, you’re probably doing something wrong. Heck, if you’re happy in your career before the age of seventy, you’re probably doing something wrong.
14. Smart, young, artistic people are always asking me which is a better career path, “Creativity” or “Money”. I always answer that it doesn’t matter. What matters is “Effective” and/or “Ineffective”.
15. Write the following on a piece of paper, have it framed, and stick it on your office wall: “Have you hugged your customer today?”
16. People will always, always be in the market for a story that resonates with them. Your product will either have this quality or it won’t. If your product fails this test, quit your job and go find something else. Just making the product incrementally cheaper or better won’t help you.
17. Products are idea amplifiers. The molecules and/or bytes are secondary.
18. People remember the quality long after they’ve forgotten the price. Unless you try to rip them off.
19. Markets serve entrepreneurs better if the latter can keep the former undersupplied. Oversupply is the kiss of death.
20. I personally know a former CEO who, once he attained control of the company, ran an EXTREMELY profitable business into the ground in less than two years. From a market cap of $100 million to ZERO, just like that. Why? Short answer: He loved being “The" CEO, but he didn’t much care for being “a" CEO.
21. In terms of becoming an entrepreneur, probably the most useful thing I learned in the last twenty years was how to enjoy my own company for long stretches of time.
22. One successful entrepreneur I know well has a wonderful quality, namely that he never, ever compares himself to other people. He just does his own thing, which actually serves him rather well. Just because his competitor has bought himself a bigger motor boat, doesn’t mean he feels the need have a bigger motor boat. This quality helps him to build his business the way he sees fit, not the way the motor boat people see fit.
23. Running a startup is full of extreme ups and downs. Which is why so many successful and happy entrepreneurs I know lead such normal, stable, unglamorous, "boring", family-centered lives. Somehow they need the latter in order to balance out the former. Extra-curricular drama looks great in the tabloids, but that’s all it’s ultimately good for.
24. MBAs are conditioned to use their brains in much the same way as sex workers are conditioned to use their genitals. Nice work if you can get it.
25. Bill Gates may have a million times more money than me, but he isn’t going to live a million times longer than me, watch a million times more sunsets than me, make love to a million times more women than me, drink a million times more fine wines than me, listen to a million times more Beethoven String Quartets than me, nor sire a million times more children than me. Human beings don't scale.
26. F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “There are no second acts in American lives.” F. Scott was a drunkard and a fool.
Random Notes On Blogging.
1. The First Rule of Blogging: “Blogs don’t write themselves.” It’s the hardest and most frustrating part of professionally helping others to blog.
2. Most bloggers I have met I would describe as smart, decent, passionate people. This includes bloggers that I don't particularly like on a personal level. I have yet to meet a blogger who I would describe as a "Thoroughbred Scumbag".
3. Blogging is an art, same as any other method of self-expression. Some are better at it than others.
4. Stay as honest as you can, for as long as you can. Once you cross the line it’s hard to go back.
5. A lot of serious bloggers became so because frankly, they had a lot of time on their hands. And often there were good reasons for that.
6. Blogging is a great way to make things happen indirectly. I say that all the time, and will KEEP saying it till people finally get it [I’m not holding my breath].
7. Far too much time and energy is spent watching people make money directly off their blogs [e.g. via advertising revenues etc], as opposed to indirectly [e.g. becoming an authority on something, and using said authority to enhance your already-existing business]. I believe the latter [which Doc Searls call The "Because" Effect] is a far more pleasant, effective and likely way to succeed.
8. So you a read lot of A-Listers. Congratulations. You now know a lot of stuff everybody else knows.
9. It’s damn hard not to read a lot of A-Listers. They got to where they are for a reason.
10. I hardly ever leave comments on other people’s blogs any more.
11. If somebody makes a harsh remark about me in the comments or somewhere else, usually my first reaction is to ask, “Yeah, and what is it THAT YOU DO that is so fucking interesting, Asshole?”
12. Cube-dwellers-with-attitude are pathetic.
13. When I first started blogging, I was living the Cumbrian boonies, being a bit of a recluse. When business finally picked up, as I started traveling more often and meeting more people, my “audience” became far less abstract to me. Conclusion: It’s far nicer writing for real people that you know personally, than for demographic “eyeballs”. I think when talking about the former, Doc Searls’ embodies this better than any one I know.
14. I agree with Doc Searls' thought that “Wuffie is earned”.
15. Why aren’t there more women bloggers in the circles I travel in? The answer is a three-letter word, beginning with the letter “M”.
16. The day you can write as compellingly and consistently as say, Kathy Sierra, Jeff Jarvis, Guy Kawasaki or Michael Arrington, will be the day I start taking your complaints of low traffic seriously.
17. Corporate America doesn’t really like blogs. Like I care.
18. If your goal is to have a large, influential online readership, I’d say give yourself five years. That's how long it took Om Malik. Some do it in less, of course, but they seem to be quite exceptional.
19. For us serious blog evangelists, it’s tempting to think “Everybody should have a blog”. About as tempting as the thought, “Everybody should be able to write well.” And about as realistic.
20. Blogging will never be a mainstream activity so long as being able to write [A] well, [B] often and [C] about stuff THAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT remain the main barriers to entry.
21. Barely a week goes by without me contemplating permanently turning off the comment section.
22. How to know you’ve arrived: When you suddenly realize that to stop blogging would be tantamount to an act of economic suicide. That moment came for me at Les Blogs 1, in Paris back in early 2005.
23. Another way to know you’ve arrived: When you realize that every business relationship you’ve established in the last twelve months was a direct result of blogging.
24. You think A-Listers are arrogant bastards? You should meet the B-List.
25. There is no A-List. If you think there is, you’ve missed the whole point.
26. There is an A-List. Fuck with us and we’ll have you destroyed like stray dogs.
27. The best way to raise you profile in the blogosphere [besides writing good stuff] is to attend the various conferences; the more, the merrier. I am [at least] fifty times more likely to link to you if I’ve already met you in real life. The other good way is to attend the geek dinners.
28. I wish I were better at linking to other people. The list of people I should have linked to, but haven’t, would fill a phone book.
29. Sixty million blogs. Sixty million business models.
30. Yes, the blogosphere is a great place to get laid. No, I’m not telling you how I found this out.
31. If you ever forget your manners, you will pay, and quickly.
32. You are not carving in stone. You die, the blog dies.
33. It’s tempting to think that people read your blog. Sadly, they don’t. They skim them. So always make your content skim-friendly. Write it with “skimmabilty” baked-in.
34. Anybody who harbors the idea that Madison Avenue EVEN SLIGHTLY understands the internet is a fool. I’ve been looking for YEARS for evidence to the contrary and simply can’t find any.
35. In this internet-enabled world of ours, Madison’s Avenue’s loss is PR’s gain. Which is why, as a former advertising hack, I follow the Edelman story very closely.
36. Getting other people to “blog for you” is a big mistake.
37. Z-Listers are every bit as selfish, self-important and psychologically flawed as A-Listers. Except the former don’t have large armies of people with real and imagined incentives for tripping them up.
38. I like and respect Robert Scoble a lot, but I find his high tolerance for trolls in his comments bordering on the clinically insane.
39. If a blog doesn’t allow comments, then yes, it’s still a blog. People who say otherwise are just getting in touch with their "Inner Idealistic Wanker".
40. When people ask me what the future of media is, I always answer, “RSS”. Thank you, Winer & Co. Seriously.
41. Most of the stuff on this list is wrong.
[Click on image to enlarge/download/print etc. Licensing terms here etc.]
Christopher Carfi is one of my favorite marketing bloggers. His writings are mostly based around the following:
THE SOCIAL CUSTOMER MANIFESTOThanks, Chris! Always an inspiration.
* I want to have a say.
* I don't want to do business with idiots.
* I want to know when something is wrong, and what you're going to do to fix it.
* I want to help shape things that I'll find useful.
* I want to connect with others who are working on similar problems.
* I don't want to be called by another salesperson. Ever. (Unless they have something useful. Then I want it yesterday.)
* I want to buy things on my schedule, not yours. I don't care if it's the end of your quarter.
* I want to know your selling process.
* I want to tell you when you're screwing up. Conversely, I'm happy to tell you the things that you are doing well. I may even tell you what your competitors are doing.
* I want to do business with companies that act in a transparent and ethical manner.
* I want to know what's next. We're in partnership…where should we go?
After publishing his "Future of Learning Manifesto" and getting a lot of feedback on it, Christian Long went ahead and created a new blog around the same subject, appropriately entitled "The Future of Learning Manifesto".
What a great idea. Godspeed, Christian!
Well done to Sig, for writing The Thingamy Manifesto, which is all to do with a new generation of enterprise software he's working on i.e. Thingamy. He also includes a ton of links, pointing to where these ideas are discussed in greater detail.
The manifesto has eleven points. Here's a taster:
1. The Organisational Hierarchy is kaput - as single purpose executor of the Business Model it requires reorganisation every time you need to get better, an utterly futile exercise most of the time. Replace it.Thanks, Sig!
2. Managing is a waste of time. Leadership I need, getting out of bed in the morning I can do myself.
3. Legacy software models the "way we always did things" - usually a model from the days of paper, quills and desks. Model reality instead.
4. Tree-structures are faulty. "Where it resides" is only two dimensional and suitable only for places. Use tags and any other means to enhance the knowledge and make finding easier.
[Disclosure: I have a small stake in Thingamy.]
Christian Long wrote "The Future of Learning Manifesto". Short version:
1. "Playing Small Does Not Serve the World."You can read the entire long version here. Thanks, Christian!
2. What Would Socrates Do?
3. Nobody Cares if You Walked Up Hill Both Ways Barefoot in the Snow.
4. Got Passion? If Not, I'll Tell You What To Care About.
5. My Memory Is Only As Big As My Heart. Otherwise, I'll Stick with Google
6. Look it Up or Die.
7. Collaboration Ain't About Holding Hands. It’s about Going Cool Places Fast.
8. This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record.
9. It Ain't About the Technology. It's About Being Inside the Story.
10. Nobody Knows the Answer. Get Comfy with the Questions.
PS: Yeah, I know, the long version is much longer than 500 words, which is the maximum I normally "allow" for the manifestos. Then again, the abridged version he e-mailed was me was well under 500 words, so I thought, what the hell, cut him some slack etc.
The Super-Smart Women's Love Manifesto
1. Come here often?
2. You work for Sun Microsystems? Never heard of them.
3. You? Make more money than me? As if.
4. To hell with your mind. Where are the big boobs, tight ass, long blonde hair and cute little giggle? Jeeze, get with the program, Girl.
5. Can I have your phone number anyway?
[This cartoon is one of my old favorites.]
Overachieving women and love.Thanks, Nia!
1. No one can tell you how to find a partner. Don't ask for advice: every case is different and if you listen to other people's love advice, you'll end up feeling guilty and confused. This includes this manifesto.
2. This is not the 1950's. This is not Cinderella. This is the real world and having a partner is like having a car: it has advantages AND disadvantages, and whatever the marketing makes you think, the fact that you want one does not mean you need one.
Now, for women who are already with someone.
3. Ask yourself if you want the rest of your life to be exactly like the last six months. If the asnwer is yes, congratulations. If the answer is no, break up with him today. You are not going to make him change.
4. You have increasing chances of making more money than your partner. Don't fool yourself: he cares. He hates it. Maybe in a generation, children will get used to the idea that mommies sometimes earn more than daddies. In the meantime, be very discreet and get yourself a pension plan. Your extra money will be invisible that way, and besides, the statistics say you are going to outlive him, so the savings will come him handy in 30 years.
[Bonus Link:] Some very dry humor from John Dodds.
Thanks to Matthew Homann for this one, which was originally published here:
The Lawyer's Client Manifesto[Manifesto submission guidelines are here.] [Manifesto archive is here.]
1. You have wants. You have needs. Focus on the needs first. Wants are bonus.
2. If you are seeing a lawyer because your dispute is "not about the money, but about the principle of the thing" don't be surprised if your lawyer runs away. You can never be satisfied. Also, it's really about the money.
3. Your case/matter is the most important thing happening to you right now. It is not the most important thing happening to your lawyer right now. It may not even be in his top ten.
4. If you think your lawyer is trying to kill your deal, remember this: though there may only be a "one percent" chance your deal will go bad, your lawyer sees that "one percent" over and over again. She's looking out for you. She cares about you and your business. She also doesn't want her malpractice premiums to go up.
5. You want to buy results, not time. Most lawyers sell time, not results. Make sure you both understand the difference before your first bill arrives. You will certainly understand the difference after.
6. If you want to find a lawyer who sells results, look hard. There are a few of them out there. They are the ones who can still smile because they get to see their children before 9:00 at night.
7. Big firm lawyers are not more efficient. Or smarter. Or cheaper. They are certainly not cheaper.
8. Make sure your lawyer understands your business. If your lawyer doesn't understand your business, find out if he's going to learn about it on his time, or yours.
9. You are your lawyer's boss. You are not her only boss. She has hundreds of other bosses too. Each one of them thinks their matter is more important than yours.
10. How messy is your lawyer's desk? When they bill you for thirty minutes of "file review," how much of that time was spent looking for your file?
11. When you call a lawyer for the first time, how long does it take for him to return your calls? After you hire that lawyer, expect it to take at least three times as long. Same goes for e-mails.
12. Does your lawyer have reputation for being a "bulldog?" That probably means they are an asshole. To everyone.
13. Look for a lawyer with a technology IQ no more than fifty points less than yours. If you live in e-mail and your lawyer doesn't, learn to like your mail carrier.
14. If you hate your lawyer, fire him. He probably deserves it, and you aren't getting his best work anyway.
15. You wouldn't automatically marry the first person you date, so don't automatically hire the first lawyer you see. A great lawyer-client relationship can last a lifetime. Your lawyer can be your advisor, counselor, confidant, and friend. Find one you like, stick with him or her, and spread the word. Oh, and stop telling lawyer jokes. They aren't really that funny. ;-)
Danny V. sent me this manifesto, however it came without a URL:
The End-User ManifestoThanks, Danny!
Things that need to be in the mind of anyone building software, particularly for the Web.
1. Don't waste my time.
2. Help me do the right thing.
3. Respect my decisions.
4. Design well, and guide me to make the right decisions by that design.
5. Don't lie to me - if I see something in front of me, then I should be able to act on it unless the interface tells me I can't.
5.1. If I see a text area, I expect to be able to type as much as that text area holds.
Scrollbars indicate to me that it is bigger than can be displayed in the space available, and I'm ok with that up to a point.
If there's a character limit, show me that by stopping me from typing past a certain point.mIf there are limits on the types of characters I can enter, tell me that before I move on to something else.
6. Keep your pop-ups to yourself. The only thing that's helpful in a pop-up format is your help system, where I can learn something without losing my place.
7.1. I have music, thanks. No sound effects or music with your advertisements, if you must have them.
7.2. No flashing colors, mini-videos, strobing effects, blinking idiot cartoons, or anything else that's the equivalent of yelling at me.
7.3. Don't confuse loud with appropriate. Google appears to understand context and content, and shows things that are SOMEHOW RELATED to what I'm doing. No, I will never want a mortgage from you.
8. Get to the point. Put the focus of your page on what I'm looking there to learn, not on someone else's advertising with your information hidden below the flashing duck.
9. I can print things without your assistance. When I click on "Printer-friendly", I really just want a page of the text I'm interested in saving to my computer without the blinking advertisements.
10. W3C standards compliance. How I get to your site is my decision. No, I'm not buying a specific type of computer just to fill out your form because you decided that ActiveX components were the quick way out of the development cycle. If you're going to be Web-based, then attempt to understand that the Web is not yours.
11. Test your stuff. I'm not your employee, and you're not paying me to test your site or your software. Please re-read 1-4 above.
12. Please also proof-read what you've written, or have someone else do so.
13. Keep the noise level lower by not using animated graphics to illustrate your mood, or plug you into social networks. Yes, kids in junior high think it's cute, but it gets very old very quickly.
14. Tell me a compelling story. This applies to weblogs, corporate sites, fan sites, any site. I'm visiting you to learn something, even if it's just a good story about something you're selling or the day you had. Good stories inspire conversations, and markets are built on those.
Thanks to Dennis Howlett for this one:
The "Nobody Cares" Manifesto For Accountants[gapingvoid manifesto submission guidelines are here.][Manifesto archive is here.]
* It's important to remember debits are on the left and credits on the right - nobody cares. Probably because the system was invented in 1494 and hasn't changed since.
* We work hard to earn letters behind our names - nobody cares. Importance isn't derived from academic achievement but what you do for others.
* ROI is an important concept - nobody cares. ROI calculations are something you do when you really don't want to help your client but to demonstrate to him/her how important you are. For which read 2.
* It's important to keep good records - nobody cares. Clients aren't in business to be administrators. If you can't figure out how to help clients then expect to be outsourced. Probably the day after tomorrow.
* A tidy office implies a tidy mind - nobody cares. A tidy mind is often compartmentalised to the point of tunnel vision. You don't see tidy at the edge of innovation. Which is where you should be when your clients come up with great ideas.
* Professionals should always wear top quality suits - nobody cares. How you look may be important if your name's Anina but it sure as heck doesn't matter when you're traipsing around a pig farm. You do that occasionally don't you?
* Your professional status among the community demonstrates integrity - nobody believes you. Professional status is over-rated. Those schmuks from KPMG in court on fraud charges sorted that one out once and for all.
* Adding value is the most important thing you have to do - nobody believes you. Clients can read a 1,000 websites and see that same vacuuous statement. Stuff your website with client stories, preferably written by clients and not some PR outfit.
Good stuff. David Armano gives us his "Holiday Manifesto". Here's a taster:
Stay away from malls
Gather around a table
Re-discover family tradition
Re-live fond memories
Forget bad ones
Play with a toy
Play chess with a friend
Spike the Eggnog
Think of someone in need
Micahel Wade from Execupundit sent me this:
The Career ManifestoThanks, Michael!
1. Unless you’re working in a coal mine, an emergency ward, or their equivalent, spare us the sad stories about your tough job. The biggest risk most of us face in the course of a day is a paper cut.
2. Yes, your boss is an idiot at times. So what? (Do you think your associates sit around and marvel at your deep thoughts?) If you cannot give your boss basic loyalty, either report the weasel to the proper authorities or be gone.
3. You are paid to take meaningful actions, not superficial ones. Don’t brag about that memo you sent out or how hard you work. Tell us what you achieved.
4. Although your title may be the same, the job that you were hired to do three years ago is probably not the job you have now. When you are just coasting and not thinking several steps ahead of your responsibilities, you are in dinosaur territory and a meteor is coming.
5. If you suspect that you’re working in a madhouse, you probably are. Even sociopaths have jobs. Don’t delude yourself by thinking you’ll change what the organization regards as a “turkey farm.” Flee.
6. Your technical skills may impress the other geeks, but if you can’t get along with your co-workers, you’re a litigation breeder. Don’t be surprised if management regards you as an expensive risk.
7. If you have a problem with co-workers, have the guts to tell them, preferably in words of one syllable.
8. Don’t believe what the organization says it does. Its practices are its real policies. Study what is rewarded and what is punished and you’ll have a better clue as to what’s going on.
9. Don’t expect to be perfect. Focus on doing right instead of being right. It will simplify the world enormously.
10.If you plan on showing them what you’re capable of only after you get promoted, you need to reverse your thinking.
Thanks, Alan, for this one. Too funny.
Driving in Phoenix Manifesto[gapingvoid manifesto submission guidelines are here.][Manifesto archive is here.]
1. We drive the temperature here, not the speed limit.
2. We have dedicated Left turn lanes, but don't worry, they are great
places to catch up on the newspaper.
3. Since we have left turn lanes, blinkers, horns and lights are optional.
4. Only newbies and rookies use their horns, since we don't use our turn
signals, no sense using anything else connected to the steering column.
5. The only exception to the horn rule is just before the sound of crashing.
6. If you are involved in a crash and the other person leaves, they are
illegal, have no drivers license or insurance and it's their cousins car.
7. Your favorite store is always on the other side of town.
8. If the person in front of you has white hair, change lanes and
streets, they are snow birds, older than dirt, and have no idea where
9. The Accident report on the radio is always longer than the newscast.
10. Drivetime is quality time, use it wisely, it's bedtime by the time
you get home.
alan herrell - the head lemur
[Click on image to enlarge/download/print etc. Licensing terms here etc.]
[Bonus Link:] The always-entertaining John T. Unger's "Amicable Heretic Manifesto:"
4. You're only entitled to the opinions you've thought through. You can only do that if you use hard data. Opinions you adopt from others are other people's opinions, not yours.[gapingvoid manifesto submission guidelines are here.][Manifesto archive is here.]
5. Fear is caused by thinking you have an answer when in fact, you haven't done anything to get one.
6. Belief in one truth over all others debases that truth. There are always a lot of truths, some of which can be simultaneously and contradictorily true.
7. Having no good flaws is worse than having no good traits.
Making the most of your time[gapingvoid manifesto submission guidelines are here.][Manifesto archive is here.]You can’t manage time. You can only manage yourself. Successful people manage to get a lot more out of their time. Here are nine things that you can focus on next year to make the most out of your time.1. Executing on your current projects flawlessly
No excuses there. None of the other items in the list matter if you keep breaking promises and go south on your commitments.
2. Strengthening your personal brand
Whether you like it or not, you have a personal brand. It is “who you are” to the world. A personal brand, like any other brand is a promise to the world.
Your personal brand or identity in the marketplace is important as it has direct correlation with the value that the marketplace places on you. Here is how it always works – first you invest in your personal brand meaning first you work on your personal brand and then your personal brand works for you.
3. Building long-term relationships
Long-term relationships with powerful people will provide you the ultimate competitive advantage. Invest in building them. Here are three things to remember on relationships:
• It is not what you know but who you know.
• It is not who you but how you know who you know
• It is just not who you know; it is who knows you.
4. Increasing your capacity to deliver
Who you are currently may not be ready to face the challenges or take advantage of the opportunities of tomorrow. You have to continuously invest in your capacity to deliver in the future.
5. Making a difference to the world
This world is what we make of it. Everyone has an unspoken responsibility to make a positive difference in this world. Without worrying about what your neighbor is doing, do something good.
6. Increasing others' capacity to make a difference
You also have a responsibility to increase the capacity of people around you to make a difference. Lift them to a higher level in any which way you can.
7. Spending time with friends and family
They say that we are blind to things that are very close to us. Family and friends typically come into this category. You can take them for granted and if you are bit late, you don’t have to worry as you won’t have them for you to take care.
8. Become a valued member in multiple networks
You can’t do everything alone. You have to not only belong to multiple networks but also be a contributing member there.
9. Learning and learning to unlearn
The information overload is only going to get worse. Explore Mindmapping. Explore Accelerated Learning. Explore Audio books. Explore Book Summaries. Do something but don’t stop learning with quoting lack of time.
It is also important to ensure that you leave behind those skills that may no longer be relevant. In other words, learn to unlearn.
Thank you, Rod Call, for this one:
I’m my only boss, and my boss is not an idiot Manifesto[gapingvoid manifesto submission guidelines are here.][Manifesto archive is here.]
1. If I want to listen to Johnny Cash during the “work day”, then I listen to Johnny Cash during the workday.
2. If I want to declare flip-flops and a t-shirt as “acceptable dress code”, then I declare flip-flops and t-shirts as acceptable dress code.
3. Since I lost patience for “micro-managing supervisors”, I am sure to not micro-manage nor become a “supervisor”.
4. I might miss a “steady paycheck”, but I don’t miss burnt coffee, fluorescent lighting, and zombie-like co-workers.
5. 8 – 5 with weekends and holidays off! Means nothing if at 5:01 and on weekends and holidays you feel like a prisoner who has been freed, only to know that you must return soon.
Being the total brevity fanboy, I went ahead and wrote a four-word manifesto.
The Four Word Manifesto.Meanwhile, La Internista [who writes anonomously, to keep herself from getting fired] sent me this manifesto, which I declined to post in full. In my e-mail to her, I wrote:
Interns do not need a manifesto about how much their jobs suck. They already know their jobs suck. What interns need are manifestos that show them a path out of their suckass job situation. Much more interesting.I kinda like the effort she put into it, though. Rock on.
[UPDATE:] La Internista has since deleted the post. Domage.
Thanks to Made By Sofa for their 100-word manifesto on Software Design:
1. Over 50% of any piece of software is communication with its end-user. To build good software a developing team should spend at least 50% of their time thinking about what and how they want to communicate. Preferably even more.Nice and short. Good job!
2. We want to create good software. And we want to collaborate with others to help them make end-user experience a central focus in all of their development efforts.
3. Shaping interaction is a privilege and we consider it an art.
4. With privilege comes responsibility. Our prime responsibility as software developers is to make sure people have a good time using our software.
Thank you, Pamela, for this wee gem:
The Work Manifesto"Accountability breeds passion and desire." Wow. What a great line.
by Pamela Slim, Escape from Cubicle Nation
1. Work is your real life. It is the way you translate your feelings, your thoughts, your hopes and your desires into something valuable, tangible and useful every day. You can choose to make work into a dreaded, necessary evil that you can't wait to finish so that you can get busy with your "real life." Why not just do work you love?
2. Good work will improve your sex life. Frustrated employees desperately long for excitement and release in the form of fantasy football, internet surfing, porn, and the affections of their stressed and overworked spouses. No superhero could fill the gigantic void of a passionless man or woman in a 15-minute tryst in bed. Express your passion through your work every day, all day, and find that you will be less needy, more attentive, open, giving and loving to your partner. Which makes for better sex.
3. Your secret desire holds the clue to your best work. You say that you would love to do meaningful work, but don't know how to find it. What is your secret desire? What idea are you a little embarrassed to share with someone because it is so delicate or bold or crazy or exciting? You often claim to not know what you want to do, but in fact censor yourself from what you know you want for fear of appearing ridiculous.
4. You can't fool your kids. Many of you claim passionless, dull and frustrating careers with the excuse that you must provide for your family. Providing for your family is noble; using it as an excuse to hide from your own greatness is a bad example for your kids. If you want them to grow up motivated, creative, free and enterprising, be that yourself. They are watching and emulating your every move.
5. Fear is the great inhibitor. All of the excuses that you find for not doing work you love have solutions. You do not enact them because you are afraid: of showing up too big in the world; of failing; of appearing as an imposter; of living in poverty. There is nothing wrong with fear. Feel it, talk to it, examine it and walk with it. Then step out and let yourself show up, warts and all. It will liberate you.
6. Owning is better than renting. While you may feel "safer" renting out your skills for a paycheck and benefits, you often sell all your energy this way and have nothing left at the end of the day. If you don't get what you need in this employment arrangement in terms of money, recognition, power or responsibility, you feel angry and frustrated. Own the means of production and the factory, and at least your glorious disasters will be your disasters. Accountability breeds passion and desire.
I always like reading Pamela's blog, I have to say. Rather inspiring in a no-nonsense, friendly kind of way.
This one made me smile. Thanks to Chas Grundy.
A Sports Fan’s Manifesto[gapingvoid manifesto submission guidelines are here.][Manifesto archive is here.]
* Love sports for sports’ sake.
* Recognize greatness in even sports you don’t like.
* Recognize talent and dedication and skill and success for what it is—a positive thing.
* Respect players for their abilities and success, even if they are the “enemy.”
* It is wrong to hate a team or player for their success.
* Don’t let your own fandom blind you to reality.
* Failure helps you see where to improve.
* Being a fan is a fickle, arbitrary experience. You cheer for a team because of location, because it’s your school, or because you were born into a fan’s family.
* It’s OK to temporarily care about a game even when you don’t care about the teams, the game, or the outcome.
* Sports are entertainment, but can be addicting. Don’t let sports ruin your relationships, your job, or your health.
Thanks to Richard Stacy for sending this one in:
A brand manager's social media manifesto[gapingvoid manifesto submission guidelines are here.][Manifesto archive is here.]
1. Recognise your antisocial nature … until you fully embrace the fact that your relationship and communication with your consumers has been fundamentally antisocial, you will never be able progress on the road towards becoming a brand that can embrace social media i.e. a socialised brand. Repeat after me, "My name is Brand X and I am antisocial".
2. Don't think digital … the answer to becoming a socialised brand does not lie in the digital world even if your relationship with your consumers ends up being based on digital channels. The answer lies in having a credible story, content that brings this alive and channels that help consumers "reach-in" and become engaged. P.S. a credible story is nothing like what you are accustomed to thinking of as a brand proposition. P.P.S. just having a corporate blog, a MySpace page, a podcast, posting stuff on YouTube does not, of itself, make you a socialised brand.
3. Remember – the tools of social media sit best in the hands of consumers (it's who they were designed for) … use them at your peril, you may end up looking silly. At all costs avoid the My(insert your brand name here)Space syndrome – a lot of digital agencies are getting rich helping clients make this mistake.
4. Stop thinking about reaching out to consumers … that is old media, old media agency planners thinking. Don't think of the tools of social media as a new channel that allows you to push messages to niche groups. Do the right thing (see point 2) and consumers will use the tools of social media to find you – your audience will select itself. Focus your energy on making your brand a beacon and your brand a host. (I am sure there is a Seth Godin book in there somewhere).
Mark Boyd, a working artist, sent me this rather heartening manifesto:
WHY MAKE STUFF?
You can change the world with a pencil, a piece of paper, a chunk of
charcoal and piece of cardboard, a paintbrush, a crayon, a d-cam, a
blog, a cell phone, a recorder; a projector, some clay and a kiln, some
wood and a few tools, some sticks, stones, and grasses, a stove and
some vegetables, found glass, paper, metal, plastic, a torch, a welder,
a stick and some sand, a knife to carve with, an idea, some mud and
hay, a computer, some seeds, a needle and thread and scrap of fabric,
the list goes on. You can change yourself by using any of this stuff or
any thing else that might come to mind and hand.
Why we make stuff matters. How we make stuff is secondary. Any method,
material or vehicle that allows you to get to what you're trying to
see/feel/say/suggest is equally valid. What we make is not the point.
That we make, that we DO, is.
Making stuff develops the ability to see, hear, taste, smell and feel.
Making stuff is about problem solving, the openness to possibilities,
development of skills, internal and external navigation and resolution,
a sense of exploration and adventure. Making stuff transforms one from
a consumer to a contributor. Making stuff is not passive. Making stuff
involves making choices. Realizing you have choices and making them is
empowering. Empowerment leads to confidence, and the courage to
question and challenge the status quo. Making stuff and sharing it is a
social and political act, which opens avenues for communication. That
can help prevent us from becoming mindless drones subservient to the
mass media, politicians, advertisers and commercial interests that have
constructed the consumer culture for the purposes of distracting and
desensitizing us from reality.
Make it up, make do, make it real, make it personal, make it public.
Make it work, make it accessible, make it cheap, make it fun, make it
serious. Make it loud or soft, make it bright or dim, make it big or
small. Make it obvious, make it subtle, make it to be touched, tasted,
smelled, heard. Make it open to interpretation, open for discussion,
open to criticism. Make it open. Make it from found stuff, made stuff,
recycled, reused and repaired stuff. Make it from scratch, from a kit,
a mix, a box. Make it new or make it old. Make it specific, make it
general, make it purposeful, make it pointless. Make it a question,
make it an answer, make it clear, make it vague. Make it high tech,
make it lo-fi, make it inclusive.
Just make it. When you're done, make more and make different. No need
to explain, justify, apologize, or validate. Make it, and let it go.
Dare to fail big, and attempt to change the world. Resist conformity,
think for yourself and go make some stuff of your very own.[gapingvoid manifesto submission guidelines are here.][Manifesto archive is here.]
For all you non-religious folk out there, Ian Green [whose blog I read regularly] kindly sent in this manifesto:
Ten Commandments Manifesto[gapingvoid manifesto submission guidelines are here.][Manifesto archive is here.]
I like the Bible – it’s a great piece of literature – but needs some context. So here’s my manifesto based on Exodus 20:1-171. God may, or may not exist – you decide. Does it matter if you believe in God? No, but if you do believe, believe in a good one.By and large life is good, people are good. Keep a song in your heart and the truth on your tongue.
2. Don’t mess about with symbols – Swastikas, Crucifix, Crescents, it all ends bad. Avoid them
3. If you mess with any of the above – you’re fucked.
4. Best to forget a Supreme Being, chill out, have a beer, scotch or claret, and treat everyone the way you would like to be treated.
5. Get a life and concentrate on being nice to others even if other people are assholes.
6. Stop being stupid – you’re not as smart as you think you are. But remember neither is your boss nor are all the other people who tell you they are smarter than you.
7. Put one day aside a week for your self – your deserve it.
8. Don’t be a slave and don’t make slaves of others.
9. If your mum and dad love you – give it back in spades.
10. Don’t do any bad stuff like murder, adultery, theft, lying, or fucking a donkey.
PS. I am not an atheist myself [or at least if I am, I'm very bad at it], but hey, I can also appreciate other people's perspectives etc.
Anna Farmery of The Engaging Brand blog sent me in this manifesto:
If... a brand starts inside, an employee's confusion1. If you believe in the strategy, why can't you explain it?
2. If talent is important, why is promotion based on your social circle?
3. If we are entrepreneurial, why do we make decisions by consensus?
4. If values are important enough to put on a card, why are they not applicable to leaders?
5. If the future is important, why do we spend time in meetings looking at the past?
6. If you embrace talent why, do you only speak to me about my weaknesses?
7. If we aim for a USP why, are encouraged to produce sameness?
8. If we believe in diversity, why are you all 40+, white and male?
9. If we need to cut development and R&D to hit budget, how can you afford a two-day team bonding session in a 5-star hotel?
10. If it is us that interact with customers, why don't you see we should feel the brand values first?
Ben Curtis, a British expatriate living in Spain, sent me "The Ex-Pat Manifesto":
1. I live here because I want to. Just because I could be paid better for the same job back home does not give me the right to complain about it. In fact, just because anything at all is different here, I do not have the right to be rude about those whose country it really is (”the locals”).I liked this manifesto because it is about SOMETHING relatively tangible and real-world, not just touchy-feely etc.
2. Having infinite patience means it goes on forever, or, no matter how long those effing Spaniards (insert other expletive/nationality as appropriate) take to process a form or fix the plumbing, I’m the only one that cares if I loose my patience.
3. Even if I am conned, robbed, humiliated, lonely or homesick, it is worth remembering afterwards that I decided to step out of my comfort zone in the first place.
4. It really doesn’t matter if I hang out with the locals or with other ex-pats, as long as I am happy…
5. But those who continually complain about their new surroundings are to be avoided. It’s contagious.
6. Wow, everything is… new… it’s not the same as where I came from! What a chance to stimulate my senses! I will take photographs, maybe write a blog or keep a diary, produce podcasts, videos - I’m enjoying the fact that my new point of view is necessarily different, I’m revelling in these new opportunities to feel creative!
Paul sent me this great manifesto on Charity:
 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.[gapingvoid manifesto submission guidelines are here.][Manifesto archive is here.]
 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Chris Houchens sent me this rather amusing marketing manifesto, based on something he wrote a while ago:
"Marketing by Committee"
If one person can produce ineffective crappy marketing, imagine what a committee can do.Too many companies have a marketing committee to help brainstorm and provide input for the organization’s marketing department. Management feels that this allows employees to "be involved" in marketing.
I asked one of my heroes, Seth Godin, to submit a manifesto. Here is what he e-mailed me back:
Unforgivable.Thanks, Seth! Seriously.
Does it take 500 words to change things?
Probably not. It probably takes less than a hundred, plus a secret ingredient.
The secret ingredient is your desire to actually do something about it. To take action, to believe that it’s worthwhile, to confront what feels like a risk but really isn’t. The secret ingredient is to ignore excuses, abandon procrastination and stop looking for proof.
So, where’s my manifesto?1. The greatest innovations appear to come from those that are self-reliant. Individuals who go right to the edge and do something worth talking about. Not solo, of course, but as instigators of a team. In two words: don’t settle.So, decide. Decide before the end of the day. If you reject the aphorisms above, replace them with your own. But don’t settle. That’s unforgivable.
2. The greatest marketers do two things: they treat customers with respect and they measure.
3. The greatest salespeople understand that people resist change and that ‘no’ is the single easiest way to do that.
4. The greatest bloggers blog for their readers, not for themselves.
5. There really isn’t much a of ‘short run’. It quickly becomes yesterday. The long run, on the other hand, sticks around for quite a while.
6. The internet doesn’t forget. And sooner or later, the internet finds out.
7. Everyone is a marketer, even people and organizations that don’t market. They’re just marketers who are doing it poorly.
8. Amazing organizations and people receive rewards that more than make up for the effort required to be that good.
9. There is no number 9.
10. Mass taste is rarely good taste.
Seth, besides being THE MASTER of brevity [I've referred to him in the past as "the Ernest Hemingway of marketing"], is no slouch in the Manifesto department himself. He founded ChangeThis.com, although yeah, he's no longer involved with it etc etc.
He's been a great inspiration to me over the years. Indeed.
I love this one from Rodrigo Dauster. Beautifully written and short:
Elusive Consumer Manifesto[gapingvoid manifesto submission guidelines are here.][Manifesto archive is here.]
1. Listen, don't ask
Don't ask me what I want. To ask is to admit you don't know. If you don't know, it means you haven't been listening. If you haven't been listening it means that you don't care about me. So why should I care about you? Every day I express what I want and what is wrong with what I have. If you care about me, observe the joy I get from company; how hard I laugh at your jokes; how happy I am to by the time I get to the front of the queue to pay; the pleasure I take from drinking that coffee; how often I return.
2. Be honest
Yes, I am a fool some of the time. I don't have the time to be smart about everything; to always make the most informed decisions. That means others can profit from me in these moments of weakness, busy-ness or fatigue. But I don't forget. So if you rip me off; I won't trust you again.
3. Help me want less
Stop telling me what else I need to be happy. We all know that more this and more that will only lead me into a down-ward spiraling, unfulfilling consumption binge. If you really want to add value -- to be different -- show me how I can get more with less: simplify, defeature, unbundle, open up.
Mike Peter Reed, a UK sound designer, wrote this over breakfast this morning. I like:
A Manifesto for Us and Them
You move among them on a cycle of ignorance. They shape your world,
they polarise your view, they create and shatter perceptions. Don't
listen to them just because they are talking. Don't learn how to be
dumb. Scratch your own head from time to time. Before you let them
into your mind find out if they have anything to say or if they are
just saying anything. Don't just listen, be attentive. Watch them
earn their credibility.
On the cusp of insidious recursive events, take your risk, make your
mark, change your life, go in a new direction. They can't stop you.
Do you know when to stop? Just as great artists steal, they also know
when to abandon their art. You cannot live forever, and the greatest
of empires will crumble. With every action or inaction, no matter how
small or seemingly insignificant, you steer the future of a world
that will resonate throughout the universe for eternity. Some will
make a dent, some will create an almost unnoticed harmony. Others may
be panel beaters seeking discord. So the pendulum swings. What's old
is new once more.
You can choose to isolate yourself from this situation on a bed of
selfishness and pity, or you can choose to extend yourself outwards
with far reaching consequences and untold prosperity. Choose now.
Choose the present. Shaping lives from a distant star they will see
you as they see themselves.[gapingvoid manifesto submission guidelines are here.][Manifesto archive is here.]
I especially like the line, "Needing stardom puts the power in someone else's hands; being a musician is yours, right now." Thanks, Shane!
A Music Mini-festo.
Amateur musicians: You no longer need to “make it big.”
The Internet is slowly killing the myth that only rock stars make popular music. The record industry still controls most of the fame and fortune, but a record contract is no longer necessary to reach listeners. If all you want is people to hear your music, get a website or put it on MySpace. Maybe you'll get fame if 50 million people like it, and maybe you'll have fortune if they send some money your way. If not, at least you have shared your music. Needing stardom puts the power in someone else's hands; being a musician is yours, right now.
Professional musicians: Kill your contracts.
To pick an example, Joe Satriani fans cannot just replace him with some other virtuoso guitarist released under a Creative Commons license; only Joe will do. Your uniqueness means the fans can't escape the music industry unless you do it first. Don't sign; if you've signed, don't renew. If you can't afford to quit without your fans' support, make sure they know it. If they won't give you that support, then you're not the star that you thought you were, and the record industry owns you more than you know.
Music fans: Support your musicians.
Enough about your right to hear the music, whether you can afford it or not: living in a world where people can afford to make that music is a privilege to be earned. Professional musicians who stop receiving money will have to start spending their days at jobs instead of writing music. A free download is not necessarily stealing, but if you don't want to wait ten years for the next album to come out, throw them a few bucks to buy them the time.
Record industry professionals: Change or die.
An industry might exist in which people like you make money from the honest practice of making it easy for musicians to get their music to listeners, but yours is not currently such an industry, or honest practice. Without you, the musician can author, record, and distribute; without the musician, you have no product. Stop alienating your market by suing them for telling you that the value you add is no longer worth the asking price: increase your value, lower the price, or get out of the business and leave the producers and consumers to work it out amongst themselves.
The Stunt Train SEO Marketing Manifesto[gapingvoid manifesto submission guidelines are here.][Manifesto archive is here.]
1. SEO is a marketing school of thought…not a process.
There are plenty of people that understand the process, and don’t “get” SEO. Here’s the process - SEObook, SEO glossary, and Ranking factors. There’s still only ten spots that matter.
The process of SEO is fundamental in just the same way that there are formulas for headlines in direct marketing that have MUCH higher likelihood for success - read the playbooks and the process becomes second nature.
2. It’s much easier to plan a website than to retrofit it.
Understanding fundamentals makes it much more valuable when you hire a consultant or agency. 18 questions your CEO forgot to ask.
3. Search increasingly impacts every form of media.
Every media distribution point is doing their best to incorporate search to personalize the conversation rather than just screaming at random people.
4. It’s all about the links (but also about the exposure, rankings, conversation, and conversion).
Building link equity is the new brand branding. It’s really all about the conversion - but you gotta love links (and openly admit to it).
5. Any marketing decision impacts search engine rankings - and vice versa
TV, radio, print and other ads can all be used for attracting links.
Want to use all flash as the homepage? Pick a different school of thought.
6. Creating a “purple” idea is much easier than begging for links.
There is always an extraordinary, remarkable new angle to any industry.
SEO is about understanding the indirect correlation of things to execute on great ideas that no one else has envisioned by having a unique perspective on marketing. Looking for quick fixes and the latest loophole is NOT SEO. Drinkbaiting is SEO - if you can’t figure out why - you’ve never spent a full 40 hour week asking for links.
7. Social media can be optimized
Optimization does not mean manipulation. Optimization is examining the rules of the game and using them to your advantage. Social media increases both exposure - as well as the level of public scrutiny. People appreciate when bias is disclosed, and conversation is HUMAN.
If you are not authentic - you will not last. The higher the value for financial gain of the industry - the more reluctant consumers and agents of distribution become to helping you distribute your message for free.
8. Top rankings won’t fix a shitty product
9. Blackhat is lying to clients, customers, partners, or vendors.
Whitehat is proactively discussing risk tolerance, process, expectations, and contribution to a community instead of just bilking people into teaching you to think.
10. It’s all about the results
Great results can be rankings, sales, or the spread of ideas. There are many great business leaders that don’t realize they are SEO’s. It is more than a process - it is understanding the process and stacking the deck in your favor within the confines of the game - which ultimately changes the game. SEO is the understanding of the dynamic game of business marketing.
We are not the suckers we always have been.[gapingvoid manifesto submission guidelines are here.][Manifesto archive is here.]
Looking back on the things that we, the people, have believed, it's hard to wrap your head around how people could so often and so easily be huckstered. P.T. Barnum said "There's a sucker born every minute," but it’s high time we realized that these days, for every minute, the sucker in someone is withering away. Now, with every passing minute, there's a sucker out there wising up. You had better be ready. It’s a sucker revolution, and it’s about time.
The reason for this sucker revolution is simple: In 1835, when Barnum started in show business, the people in the town he just left couldn't tell the people ahead that his freakshow was just a great makeup job. But now we can, and we leave our evidence everywhere. Karma is taking a virtually physical presence in our communities and mindspace. We know not only that we don't like a company, but also why we don't like it... or if we don’t, finding out is just a few keystrokes away.
Like Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, this manifesto attempts to nail the hypocrisy of the hype machine on the door of the town church for everyone to see. It works on the principle that whatever happens comes back to you, and that there's no such thing as "getting away with it". As individuals, we already know this. As businesses, we have yet to admit that the specter of deceit is even in the room.
If you're a business, and you're worried, that’s because you probably should be. You’re probably realizing that your customers are catching up with you. The upcoming generation is larger than you, and faster than you. And they won't mind messaging their 5,000 MySpace friends to get them involved, either. Be prepared.
[Douglas Karr writes this lovely manifesto about happiness:]
Our culture is inundated with messages that lead us down a path of self-destruction. Happiness is equated with things we do not have... cars, money, 6-pack abs, awards, lifestyles, or even just a soda. Knowledge is equated with wealth, albeit accumulated or inherited. This is the disease of our culture, assuring us that we are never smart enough, never wealthy enough, never have enough.
The media entertains us with stories of wealth, sex, crime, and power – all things things that may hurt us or others when taken in excess. Our government even participates in the misdirection, tantalizing us with lotteries. Every marketing message and every commercial is the same, “You will be happy when…”
We are not happy with our spouses, so we get divorced. We’re not happy with our homes, so we relocate our families and buy bigger until we can’t afford them. We shop until our credit is used up and we go bankrupt. We are not happy with our jobs, so we join in hurtful politics to try to accelerate our promotions. We’re not happy with our employees so we hire new ones. We’re not happy with our profits, so we let faithful employees go.
We are a culture of individuals who are told that hording is the best path to happiness. The grass is always greener – the next girlfriend, the next home, the next city, the next job, the next drink, the next election, the next, next, next... We are never taught to be happy with what we have now. We must have it, and have it now. That’s when we’ll be happy.
Since it’s only possible for the selected few to have it all, the bar is always higher than we can reach. We can never achieve happiness as defined by our culture. How do we cope? We medicate. Illicit drugs, alcohol, prescription medications, tobacco are all necessary and popular since they take the edge off of our unfulfilling lives.
In truth, we are on top of the world. We are the leaders with everything element of success that a culture is measured against. We have the mightiest armies, the most fantastic natural resources, the greatest economy, and the most amazing people.
Yet, we are not happy.
Don’t rely on anyone or anything outside your own self to drive your happiness. It is up to no one but yours. When you own your happiness, no one can steal it, no one can buy it, and you don’t have to look elsewhere to find it.
God bless you and yours this fantastic Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is 1 day out of a year. Perhaps we should have ‘Self-giving’ and reverse our calendar. Let us spend the rest of the year being happy with what we have and one day spoiling ourselves with what we don’t have. Let us be happy with our family, our children, our home, our job, our country and our lives.
You’ll be happy when... you find happiness in yourselves.
Thanks, Doug! Good topic for Thanksgiving etc.
Please submit a mini-manifesto.
I have to say, after writing an under-five-hundred-word mini-manifesto, I find myself quite taken by the format. Somehow the brevity just clicks for me.
Why take 50,000 words [the length of your average business tome] to say what you have to say, when 500 will do? Brevity. I love brevity. We're both in a hurry.
So I'm thinking, well, there's also a lot of people out there besides myself and the bloggers I read, with ideas needing spread. Powerful ideas that could be easily summed up in 500 words or less. And I would really, truly, seriously like to do what I can to help get them out there.
So here's the deal. If you've written a manifesto in 500 words or less, and you want help spreading the word, just e-mail it to me, or send me the link. If it's any good I'll either link to it, or post it here on gapingvoid [under the same Creative Commons terms with which I publish my own work].
It doesn't necessarily have to be about a topic I'm professionally close to. Nor does it have to be the greatest piece of writing since Cluetrain or Purple Cow. Just make sure it's written with authority and passion. Just make sure it's good.
Two points to consider:
1. I'm interested in changing the world [however you wish to interpret that statement]. And I believe gapingvoid readers tend to be interested in writers who feel the same. That's the quality we'll collectively be looking for, so please keep that in mind.
2. I am more likely to publish something "specific", as opposed to "general". By that I mean, I prefer manifestos that are about something tangible, for example, accounting or driving in Phoenix, than vague, self-help/lifestyle coach/quasi-spiritual/motivational "Go, Me!" stuff. I hope that makes sense...
Thanks. Let's see what happens...
THE HUGHTRAIN MkIII mentioned recently that The Hughtrain was in dire need of a re-write.
1. The market for something to believe in is infinite.
We are here to find meaning. We are here to help other people do the same. Everything else is secondary. We humans want to believe in our own species. And we want people, companies and products in our lives that make it easier to do so. That is human nature.
2. The most important word in marketing is “complicity”.
It's not enough for the customer to love your product. They have to love your process as well.
3. Your customers are becoming smarter about your market a lot faster than you are.
Thanks to the internet, your customers are able to talk to each other. They are able to find better information about your product than you are able of willing to give them, much quicker than you are capable of giving them. The conversation will happen with or without you, you’re better off joining in.
4. The primary job of an advertiser is not to communicate benefit, but to communicate conviction.
It’s not about what you have; it’s about why it matters.
5. A company's primary role is to function as an "idea amplifier".
A company's primary role is not to make or do stuff. Making and doing are mere subsets.
6. The future of advertising is internal.
The hardest part of a CEO's job is sharing his enthusiasm with his colleagues, especially when a lot of them are making one-fiftieth of what he is. Selling the company to the general public is a piece of cake compared to selling it to the actual people who work for it.
7. Your job is no longer about selling. Your job is about firing off as many synapses in your customer's brain as possible.
The more synapses that are fired off, the more dopamines are released. Dopamines are seriously addictive. The more dopamines you release, the more the customer will come back for more. Your customer thinks he is coming back to you for sane, rational, value-driven reasons. He is wrong. He is coming back to feed.
8. Good-bye, Messages. Hello, Social Gesture.
A well-executed marketing campaign is an act of love.
9. Control the conversation by improving the conversation.
Choosing to have a “smarter conversation” with the market is not a marketing decision; it’s a moral decision.
10. The more porous the membrane that separates your business from your market, the easier it is for both parties to be in alignment. And the more porous the membrane, the easier it is to fix non-alignment.
So what did I do? Basically, I made it shorter. A LOT shorter. 418 vs. 4,500 words. In this regard, I was partially inspired by John Dodd's most excellent J-Train Manifesto [438 words].
The power of brevity etc.
[PS: Thanks to John for the impetus.]
John Dodds, a frequent gapingvoid commenter, has written a marvelous marketing manifesto, called The J-Train Manifesto. Inspired by frequent rides on New York's "J" Train, back when he was living there, it's also a pun on Cluetrain, Hughtrain etc.
1. All Markets Are Up For Grabs.One thing that really impressed me [besides the great thinking behind it] is how short it is. Ten small paragraphs, and that's it.
It's no longer possible to control the conversation. While incumbents spend their time trying to cling to that belief, you have the opportunity to step in, reframe the discussion and win a new argument.
2. Difference Not Differentiation.
Customers have either too much stuff or not enough time and value current choices over substitutes. Minimise the behavioural change you demand of them, but give them a real reason or reasons to love your product/service.
3. Don't Disappoint.
Ensuring that everything works and instantly reacting to any problems is a given. Bad news travels much faster and wider than it did before. An informed customer is your best promotion but potentially your worst nightmare.
4. Make Your Marketing Sociable.
You can't control the conversation, but you can facilitate and, to some extent, host it in a way that allows you to build genuine relationships with potential customers rather than white-noise relationships with anyone you can bombard.
5. Interaction Requires Iteration.
It's not enough to listen and a single return path does not constitute a dialogue. Meaningful long-term connection with prospective customers can only come from community, co-operation and co-creation.
6. See The Wood For The Trees.
Don't assume you're like the customers. You're much closer to your business than they are or care to be. Find out what they're like. The shared interest at the heart of your relationship will probably not to be the product itself.
7. Relate, Renew and Reinvent.
If you want them to keep coming back to you, then you must keep coming back to them. It's not about new campaigns that look different. The new focus is more on product and customer development and less on explicit promotion.
8. Don't Forget To Sell.
Engagement is great but it doesn't pay the bills, so remember to sell. Selling is responding to the customer's interest when they choose to make the move. It's not about cutting deals, it is about making it easy for them to buy or trial.
9. Le ROI Est Mort.
Marketing cannot be a measurement-free zone, but increasingly its overall impact is indirect and qualitative. However, as engagement methods are less expensive than advertising, ROI will almost certainly rise and, crucially, with no increase in spending, it will continue to rise as your engagement intensifies.
10. Marketing Is Not A Department.
Marketing is a combination of elements that creates the environment in which it is possible to meet a customer need (starting right back at product development). It operates online and off and should inform and occupy every aspect and department of an organisation. More than ever before, it is everybody's job.
I bet even Seth Godin, the master of marketing brevity, will be impressed.
So you want to be more creative, in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years:
1. Ignore everybody.
The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you. When I first started with the biz card format, people thought I was nuts. Why wasn't I trying to do something more easy for markets to digest i.e. cutey-pie greeting cards or whatever?
2. The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to change the world.
The two are not the same thing.
3. Put the hours in.
Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. 90% of what separates successful people and failed people is time, effort and stamina.
4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being "discovered" by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.
Nobody suddenly discovers anything. Things are made slowly and in pain.
5. You are responsible for your own experience.
Nobody can tell you if what you're doing is good, meaningful or worthwhile. The more compelling the path, the more lonely it is.
6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.
Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with books on algebra etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the creative bug is just a wee voice telling you, "I�d like my crayons back, please."
7. Keep your day job.
I�m not just saying that for the usual reason i.e. because I think your idea will fail. I�m saying it because to suddenly quit one�s job in a big ol' creative drama-queen moment is always, always, always in direct conflict with what I call �The Sex & Cash Theory�.
8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.
Nor can you bully a subordinate into becoming a genius.
9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.
You may never reach the summit; for that you will be forgiven. But if you don't make at least one serious attempt to get above the snow-line, years later you will find yourself lying on your deathbed, and all you will feel is emptiness.
10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.
Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece on the back of a deli menu would not surprise me. Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece with a silver Cartier fountain pen on an antique writing table in an airy SoHo loft would SERIOUSLY surprise me.
11. Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.
Your plan for getting your work out there has to be as original as the actual work, perhaps even more so. The work has to create a totally new market. There's no point trying to do the same thing as 250,000 other young hopefuls, waiting for a miracle. All existing business models are wrong. Find a new one.
12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.
The pain of making the necessary sacrifices always hurts more than you think it's going to. I know. It sucks. That being said, doing something seriously creative is one of the most amazing experiences one can have, in this or any other lifetime. If you can pull it off, it's worth it. Even if you don't end up pulling it off, you'll learn many incredible, magical, valuable things. It's NOT doing it when you know you full well you HAD the opportunity- that hurts FAR more than any failure.
13. Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside.
The more you practice your craft, the less you confuse worldly rewards with spiritual rewards, and vice versa. Even if your path never makes any money or furthers your career, that's still worth a TON.
14. Dying young is overrated.
I've seen so many young people take the "Gotta do the drugs and booze thing to make me a better artist" route over the years. A choice that was neither effective, healthy, smart, original or ended happily.
15. The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.
Art suffers the moment other people start paying for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The less control you will have. The more bullshit you will have to swallow. The less joy it will bring. Know this and plan accordingly.
16. The world is changing.
Some people are hip to it, others are not. If you want to be able to afford groceries in 5 years, I'd recommend listening closely to the former and avoiding the latter. Just my two cents.
17. Merit can be bought. Passion can't.
The only people who can change the world are people who want to. And not everybody does.
18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.
They�re a well-meaning bunch, but they get in the way eventually.
19. Sing in your own voice.
Piccasso was a terrible colorist. Turner couldn't paint human beings worth a damn. Saul Steinberg's formal drafting skills were appalling. TS Eliot had a full-time day job. Henry Miller was a wildly uneven writer. Bob Dylan can't sing or play guitar.
20. The choice of media is irrelevant.
Every media's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Every form of media is a set of fundematal compromises, one is not "higher" than the other. A painting doesn't do much, it just sits there on a wall. That's the best and worst thing thing about it. Film combines sound, photography, music, acting. That's the best and worst thing thing about it. Prose just uses words arranged in linear form to get its point across. That's the best and worst thing thing about it etc.
21. Selling out is harder than it looks.
Diluting your product to make it more "commercial" will just make people like it less.
Many years ago, barely out of college, I started schlepping around the ad agencies, looking for my first job.
22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.
Everybody is too busy with their own lives to give a damn about your book, painting, screenplay etc, especially if you haven't sold it yet. And the ones that aren't, you don't want in your life anyway.
23. Worrying about "Commercial vs. Artistic" is a complete waste of time.
You can argue about "the shameful state of American Letters" till the cows come home. They were kvetching about it in 1950, they'll be kvetching about it in 2050.
It's a path well-trodden, and not a place where one is going to come up with many new, earth-shattering insights.
24. Don�t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.
Inspiration precedes the desire to create, not the other way around.
25. You have to find your own schtick.
A Picasso always looks like Piccasso painted it. Hemingway always sounds like Hemingway. A Beethoven Symphony always sounds like a Beethoven's Syynphony. Part of being a master is learning how to sing in nobody else's voice but your own.
26. Write from the heart.
There is no silver bullet. There is only the love God gave you.
27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.
This is equally true in art and business. And love. And sex. And just about everything else worth having.
28. Power is never given. Power is taken.
People who are "ready" give off a different vibe than people who aren't. Animals can smell fear; maybe that's it.
29. Whatever choice you make, The Devil gets his due eventually.
Selling out to Hollywood comes with a price. So does not selling out. Either way, you pay in full, and yes, it invariably hurts like hell.
30. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.
If you have the creative urge, it isn't going to go away. But sometimes it takes a while before you accept the fact.