Over the last few days I have met some amazing people and heard some fantastic stories. I am very lucky to have a job that sends me all over the place to lots of different events run by some wonderful people, and I usually take Friday’s to find a dark room with some good coffee, just to process everything that I’ve seen and thought.
This week though seems different from any other week. Not just because the quality of the people and events I’ve been to has been higher than usual, but because my notes have been attacked by some random act of serendipity: every one of the quotes I have written down were exactly ten words long.
In some kind of happy accident, all the people who challenged or inspired me these last few days did it in exactly ten words. And these weren’t ten word soundbites or flippant quotes, these were very carefully thought through sentences that described what each person stood for. It reminded me that writing a long posts or giving a long explanations is easy, but putting a big idea into a short sentence with small words is incredibly difficult. In a world of short attention spans and people who tell stories in swipes, being able to reduce your big idea into a short sentence is more important than ever.
“Sorry I wrote you such a long letter, I didn’t have time to write a shorter one”.
So, in order to remind myself not to forget these special sentences (and maybe encourage you to find ten words of your own), here are seven ten-word personal manifesto’s that have inspired me recently:
“I want to inspire others to do what inspires them”. Simon Sinek (Preacher)
Sinek on why he feels like he is a messenger who has been given the task of help people find their own “Why” or someone else’s “Why” to believe in.
“I spend three hours preparing for a fifteen minute meeting”. Eric Schultz (Special Assistant to Barack Obama)
Schultz on how you can make the biggest difference by being the most prepared person in the room. He was responsible for putting together the binder for each daily White House press briefing.
“How many days do you have to make a difference?” Lindsay Holst (Head of Digital for VP Joe Biden)
In something that felt like a scene from the West Wing, Lindsay reminded everyone about the urgency of getting important things done. This was the whiteboard in the West Wing that the digital team used going into Obama’s last year in office.
“People should judge me by the quality of my children”. Richard Branson (Balloonist)
When challenged by Simon Sinek how people should judge his life (and his legacy with Virgin), Branson replied immediately that he didn’t want people to judge him purely what he did with Virgin and its’ 400 brands.
“Employees must understand six ‘assumptions’ to build a happy company”. Biz Stone (Co-Founder of Twitter)
Biz returned to Twitter this week to help improve culture, corporate morale and happiness.
The only important question is, ‘What does the audience feel?’” Matthew Luhn (Chief Storytelling Officer at Pixar)
Luhn talking about the importance of telling emotional stories that take people on a journey.
“To achieve good results, work all night and eat soup”. Cedric Villani (Mathematician and Field’s Medal Winner)
Villani on how he accidentally discovered a new mathematical theorem when he hid away for a week (trying to bring a textbook up-to-date), with no distractions, and armed with nothing more than a notebook and pen, a big pan of soup and “lots of bread“.
“Ten Words”. Would be a great idea for a coffee table book….