The Word of 2012 Is Manifesto


I don’t know if you’re aware of this but the word of the year will be manifesto.

That’s right. I have seen it used no less than 12 times in the past two weeks. I have used it myself, too.

Why is it so common? Well, Time‘s person of the year is the protester and I think we all can’t help but feel that shit is fucked up and bullshit.

Job seekers. Recruiters. HR chumps. We’ve been neutered over the past few years. We can’t take it, anymore. But what can we do except write a couple of manifestos?

Well, we could write them better.

I want to share a little about what I know about revolution, anarchy, and manifestos.

  1. Go big. I wrote my first manifesto in 2007. I gave it to my SVP of HR (Mary McLeod) and my CEO (Jeff Kindler) along with my intention to resign. And I meant it. You can’t make a statement if you’re hedging your bets.
  2. Be brief. If you write too much, you risk looking like the Unabomber. My first manifesto was about 1,000 words. It should have been 500 words and had three concrete examples of what’s wrong and how to fix it. Be brief, be direct, and be done with it.
  3. Go home. Sometimes the messenger is the wrong person to implement change. I left Pfizer and walked away from what was the easiest freaking job in the entire world because my ship had sailed. What about yours? It is one thing to be a visionary. It’s another thing to be an administrator who figures it all out. Be willing to serve as an example of principle. Be willing to walk away.

If 2012 is the year of the manifesto, do it right. Don’t just write a wimpy plea for change. Don’t use the word manifesto to advertise your products and services.  Have a spine. Write a manifesto that says something true.

And be the mothereffing change you wish to see in the world.

Without principle, you’re just a whiner.

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