1. We Are All Designers

What’s Your Manifesto?

Recently, while attending an event at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I participated in a client workshop that was facilitated by our Chief Design Officer, Bruce Mau. We were talking about the value of creating manifestos to articulate what’s important to us as companies, as business leaders, and as regular people taking up space on the planet. We shared the Freeman Manifesto, but that was just by way of example. In fact, Bruce shared a more impressive manifesto – written by a grandmother for her grandchildren. She wanted these loved ones to understand what was important to her; she wanted them to benefit from some of her life lessons.

North Star

It blew us away. And then Bruce challenged us – he gave us three minutes to create our own personal manifesto. Personal. The point of a manifesto, of course, is to make a public declaration of one’s beliefs and intentions. We all quickly realized that, by making our personal intentions public, we could be held accountable. I found this experience somewhat intimidating, but very powerful. We only had three minutes, so there was no time for posturing or bloviating.

Here’s what I wrote:

I will fail and keep trying… I will offer unconditional love to those who do the same. Be vulnerable. Be honest.    

Yeah, it’s short and simple. Just over 20 words. Shorter than many of my tweets. But it’s pretty much how I feel about life. I want to be open to new challenges, take risks, and not be over-afraid of failure. And I want to give other people the same safe space to try new things and grow.

As we went around the room and shared our personal manifestos, it was a beautiful moment. We cut through the hubris—the need to feel cool or important. These manifestos were totally honest. They were vulnerable—a bit aspirational. It was as if, at that one moment in time, we could all point to our own personal North Star. It was a moment of pure clarity regarding the one true thing about what we’re trying to do, about what really matters to us.

So, how about you? What’s your manifesto? How do you intend to approach today’s assignments, your long-term goals, your life? What matters to you? Can you point to your North Star?

Do yourself this favor—write down your manifesto and share it with the people you love. Post it on Facebook if that’s your thing. Just do it. Now.

You have three minutes.