The Cluetrain Manifesto … Holstee Manifesto … Lululemon Manifesto … Bruce Tau’s Manifesto … and Sunscreen

May 9, 2019

20 years ago, back in September 1999, I left the comfort of my corporate job and started a new business. We wanted it to be a wake up call for business, an inspiration for leaders, and enabler of better work. For the last year I had watched the rapid growth of new start-ups harnessing the potential of the internet. I wanted to be one of them. With a colleague, Jonathan Hogg and the backing of PA Consulting Group, Wiley and SAP, we started out. My goal wasn’t to be super rich, or to be a tech head. I was more inspired by a new kind of business that was emerging, a new kind of work, a new kind of life.

My inspiration came from a manifesto published online earlier that year, and later became a book. It was called The Cluetrain Manifesto.

“A powerful global conversation has begun … people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter … and getting smarter faster than most companies.

These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.

Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.

But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to customers.” They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.

While many such people already work for companies today, most companies ignore their ability to deliver genuine knowledge, opting instead to crank out sterile happytalk that insults the intelligence of markets literally too smart to buy it.

However, employees are getting hyperlinked even as markets are. Companies need to listen carefully to both. Mostly, they need to get out of the way so intranetworked employees can converse directly with internetworked markets.

Corporate firewalls have kept smart employees in and smart markets out. It’s going to cause real pain to tear those walls down. But the result will be a new kind of conversation. And it will be the most exciting conversation business has ever engaged in.”

Manifestos

Manifesto’s have continued to inspire me. Much more powerful than the usual mission statements and corporate presentations, a manifesto has belief, passion and intent.

Here are some of my favourites:

The Holstee Manifesto

In the summer of 2009, brothers Dave and Mike Radparvar decided to quit their jobs in the heat of the recession to go all-in on their passion project — Holstee, a functional and sustainable t-shirt company they had started with their friend Fabian Pfortmüller. Without a business plan or experience in fashion, they reasoned that in the worst-case scenario, it would be the most memorable summer of their lives.

More than anything, Dave, Mike, and Fabian were looking to build a company that would allow them to live their dream. They wanted to create a company that aligned with their personal values and allowed them to have a positive impact on the world around them.

So one of the first things they did was take time to write down why they were starting Holstee. They sat on the steps of Union Square in New York City and, together, they defined what success would look like if they took the financials out of it.

Dave, Mike, and Fabian put that message up as the “About” page on their new website and called it the “Holstee Manifesto.” They couldn’t have imagined how much these words would resonate! Since then, the Holstee Manifesto has been shared millions of times, translated into over 14 languages, and called the next “Just Do It” by The Washington Post — not something they could have predicted when their top t-shirt customer was their mom.

Since writing the Manifesto, the biggest question Holstee has received is what it means to actually live those words. They’ve spent the last eight years trying to answer this question, jumping headfirst into the literature of a life well lived, from classic philosophers like Aristotle, Seneca and Nietzsche to modern thinkers like Martin Seligman, Carol Dweck, Tal Ben-Shahar, and Brené Brown (just to name a few!). They decided to create the Holstee Membership as a way to share what they’ve learned and help others explore what’s most important to them.

The Lululemon Manifesto

Founded by Chip Wilson in Vancouver, Canada in 1998, lululemon is a yoga-inspired, technical athletic apparel company for women and men. What started as a design studio by day and yoga studio by night soon became a standalone store in November of 2000 on West 4th Avenue in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood.

Lululemon’s vision for thestore was to create more than a place where people could get gear to sweat in, we wanted to create a community hub where people could learn and discuss the physical aspects of healthy living, mindfulness and living a life of possibility. It was also important for them to create real relationships with our guests and understand what they were passionate about, how they liked to sweat and help them celebrate their goals. Today, they do this in their stores around the globe.

“Our manifesto is one way we share our culture with the community. It’s an evolving collection of bold thoughts that allow for some real conversations to take place. Get to know our manifesto and learn more about what lights our fire.”

Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto

In 1998 a little known Canadian designer named Bruce Mau published his Incomplete Manifesto for Growth outlining his beliefs, strategies and motivations. His 43 points spread like wildfire throughout the design industry and are still regularly quoted by design wonks like me.

Oddly, all traces of the manifesto have been removed from Mau’s website, leaving broken links spread across the Interwebs like doors to nowhere. I wonder if he pulled it down because he regrets any of his bold challenges to us as an industry? Perhaps the manifesto isn’t considered relevant nearly 16 years after they were first published? Here is a PDF of the original document.

Nike’s brand manifesto

In 1977 Phil Knight and his young team were business rookies. They went to Japan in search of new manufacturing techniques, and started to build a brand that would become the largest sportswear brand in the world. And whilst they now equip athletes in every sport imaginable, their earliest and personal passion was in running. They were not about shoes, they were about athletes. Runners.

Work is not a job

It’s easy to forget that we spend most of our best years, and the majority of our days in those years, at work. We might be struggling to find the right job, to develop our skills, to raise a family, to pay the mortgage, but actually this is the time of our lives.

Daring Greatly Leadership Manifesto

Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly is an inspiring read. However her best messages are captured in this short manifesto to leaders. Not just CEOs but she seeks to address teachers, principles, politicians, community leaders and any other decision makers. T0 dare greatly.

Frog Design’s manifesto

Frog is a fabulous design firm. Like many, they appreciate the power of ideas.

The Expert Enough Manifesto

This manifesto comes straight from the blog founded by Corbet Barr. Corbett is the creator of Expert Enough, and CEO of Fizzle Co. He has always considered being called a “jack of all trades” a compliment. The Expert Enough Manifesto illustrates what the site “is all about”.

Focus 

Leo Babauta, creator of “Zen Habits”, has put together a simple and effective manifesto with the downloadable PDF known plainly as “focus”.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s 10-Point Manifesto for His Apprentices

In Frank Lloyd Wright’s Autobiography, he includes a list of the “Fellowship Assets” that he outlined for the architecture apprentices he worked with at Taliesin, his summer home, studio, and school.

1. An honest ego in a healthy body.
2. An eye to see nature
3. A heart to feel nature
4. Courage to follow nature
5. The sense of proportion (humour)
6. Appreciation of work as idea and idea as work
7. Fertility of imagination
8. Capacity for faith and rebellion
9. Disregard for commonplace (inorganic) elegance
10. Instinctive cooperation

Women in Business Manifesto

While this one may be directed at women in business, it certainly can apply to a much larger demographic. The message conveyed by the Women in Business Manifesto is another example of typography imagery done well.

279 Days to Overnight Success

Chris Guillebeau started out as a volunteer in West Africa, and then visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Since then he has modelled his definition of an entrepreneur: “Someone who will work 24 hours a day for themselves to avoid working one hour a day for someone else.”

Chris’s first book, The Art of Non-Conformity, was translated into more than twenty languages. His second book, The $100 Startup, was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, selling more than 500,000 copies worldwide. His third book, The Happiness of Pursuit, was published in September 2014 and was also a New York Times bestseller. His fourth book, Born for This, will help you find the work you were meant to do. His “The Art of Non-Conformity” website is full of inspiration, and this downloadable PDF is no exception.

More manifestos

Everyone’s free (to where sunscreen)

In 1997 Mary Schmich wrote this “Ladies and Gentleman of the Class of ’97” in the Chicago Tribune called “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young”. Baz Luhrman, best known as the director of films like “Strictly Ballroom” and “Moulin Rouge!”, released this song using her lyrics two years later, and the song climbed music charts across the globe. Quirky but brilliant.

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. Scientists have proven the long-term benefits of sunscreen, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or celebrate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders. Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it is worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

The Passive Aggressive Manifesto

Maybe in response to all these good words, Michael Schechter created The Passive Aggressive  Manifesto saying “Let’s face it… words, no matter how pretty and sweet they might be, don’t really mean all that much if they don’t make you do anything.”

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