I don’t remember when this happened, but at some point, I subscribed to emails from someone called Avinash Kaushik. Apart from the splendour of that name, someone on Twitter (it’s always someone on Twitter) said he was a must-follow.
His Twitter bio is a bit mysterious if you’re not part of the digital marketing world. It says:
Author, Web Analytics 2.0 & Web Analytics: An Hour A Day | Digital Marketing Evangelist, Google | Newsletter: http://zqi.me/tmaisignup
I’m not usually a follower of digital marketing trends but I have nevertheless found his email newsletter to be a source of wisdom and provocation.
Kaushik writes a lot about marketing analytics, and then I just quietly move along. Sometimes he writes about life in a corporate environment – and often what he says about that applies a lot more widely.
In my small business world, for instance, this post challenged me on many levels. Kaushik says:
“I humbly offer that for any brand that wants to survive for more than a couple of years, you have to figure out what the heck do we stand for? And, do the hard intelligent creative work required to manifest it in a simple tagline.”
Forget mission statements
In another post he talks about mission statements. He is not a fan: “Mission statements had great intent behind them: Signify purpose. Provide a clear True North. Ground individuals. Bring people together. Mission statements have long since morphed into blathering homages to nothingness, constructed by committees trying to appease every vested interest.”
Rather, says Kaushik, get yourself a mantra: “five words, or less. In that space, good mantras, capture the very essence of existence (of a team, company, product, or a person)… The best mantras communicate purpose, meaning, and are a clear rallying cry to bring people together.
Hmm. What the heck do I stand for, then? And can I say it in just five words?
When in doubt, make a list
I started with a long list (of course I did: I always make a list), brainstorming the things I stand for. In the list, were the following words (this is not the whole list, just the ones that leapt off the page at me once I was done):
- Keeping faith (staying true to the things I believe in and support, even in hard or difficult times)
- Being trustworthy and reliable (that’s what it says on the tin: safe hands)
- Turning up (being responsible)
- Connection (making connections, seeing patterns, closing circles)
- Honesty (in both senses: being ethical, and being truthful)
Looking at my list and thinking about the range of things I do (editing, proofreading, social media, “fixing” problems with documents and websites, and more), I then distilled my purpose down to this:
“I help people to make connections through clear communication.”
Why only one mantra? I could have lots
And I generated a whole bunch of mantras (because, as previously recorded, I can’t resist a list):
- I believe that doing the right thing is enough in itself.
- I believe in not giving up.
- I believe in making connections.
- I believe in doing the work to keep my family together.
- I believe in order and creating order.
- I believe in helping other people to fly.
- I believe in honesty and truth-telling.
I’ve been in business for three years now, and have mostly just done the thing that is in front of me.
But 2020 is my year to do things differently, to reflect and learn and grow. So I’m glad to have made conscious my values and to have begun the process of refining and distilling the essence of what I offer. It’s a process and my list will change and grow. But here, today, this is what I stand for.
Main picture: Estée Janssens, Unsplash.Read more: In which I make a mantra and (not) a mission statement Read more: In which I make a mantra and (not) a mission statement Read more: In which I make a mantra and (not) a mission statement