If a company’s culture is shaped by its leader, then here are my personal mantras that are shaping the culture of Elliance, a Pittsburgh digital marketing agency serving clients worldwide.
1. Follow the poetry of your soul.
Just like a lotus flower, every person has an inner gift yearning to unfold. Feed your passions. Follow your intuitions. Trust the natural process of your soul slowly revealing itself.
2. Greatness doesn’t only belong to others.
It’s our birthright too. In every project, produce something special that makes others wish they had created it. Greatness often comes from ideas in unrelated disciplines applied to your domain. Study greatness in other fields.
3. Do hard things. Do consequential things.
Create mountains, not hills. Fear nothing. Do things that matter, that touch/change lives, and that make a meaningful difference.
4. Be a merchant of hope.
The light of hope moves life forward towards our ambitions, destinies, and lifetime achievements. Hope makes us try harder in overcoming the obstacles we’ll inevitably face. Back hope with thoughtful, intelligent and strategic actions.
5. Romance people.
Create great experiences. It shows you care for people and respect them. It shows your commitment to help them in their hero’s journey. It honors the risk they are taking in choosing you and believing in you.
6. Retain your underdog mindset.
Hustle. Work smarter. Challenge conventions. Expect setbacks and recover from them quickly. Keep the faith.
7. See the advantage in every disadvantage.
And vice versa. Trace back anyone admirable and you’ll find a desire to overcome a personal history filled with adversity, scarcity, inadequacy, deficiency, and hunger – and mentors who believed the person could overcome it.
8. Stay curious. Stay hungry.
Make the love of learning a central force in your life. Read a book you would never read. Sign up for a class on a topic you know nothing about. Experience something you never thought you ever would. Befriend someone unusual. You’ll find wonder everywhere you turn.
9. Focus on the unsaid, the unseen and the unheard.
Only half of reality is visible. Half of all communications are stated. Rationality only looks at the visible, the tangible and the stated, but Wisdom takes into consideration the invisible, the silent and the whispers.
10. Think integratively.
Aristotelian logic created simplistic “either/or” polarities. Buddhist “both/and” or “yin/yang” reasoning enables balancing of multiple perspectives. Cultivate integrative thinking. It reduces conflict and unlocks a wealth of creativity.
11. Build bridges.
Learn multiple languages. Learn the language of multiple disciplines. Devote each year to learning one new language. This will open up new terrains, new relationships, and new connections. Join the small tribe of bridge builders.
12. Write and speak directly and simply.
Write the way you talk. Use nickel and dime words; avoid quarter and dollar words. Don’t sound like a pompous consultant. Revise as many times as you have to.
Speak directly and simply. Know what you want the listener to believe and do. Rehearse. Speak about your passions. Speak to one person you admire the most. Persuade the one skeptic you respect the most.
13. Be a craftsman.
Craftsmanship is an enduring, basic human impulse, and the desire to do a job well for its own sake. Work on every project as if it was your last project. As Mother Teresa said “do small things with great love.”
14. Embrace beauty.
God is beautiful and loves beauty. People are attracted to beautiful things. Just like great artists, architects, designers and writers, infuse beauty in every artifact and every experience you create.
Draw diagrams, infographics and charts. Distill your thoughts. Think in series.
16. Work smarter.
Work on one thing at a time until finished. Prioritize the most important things first.
17. Love the last 2% of every project.
That’s when magic happens. Persevere when everyone else is exhausted and ready to call it done. The last 2% transforms good into something great, admirable, and share-worthy.
18. Abandon yourself to the strength of others.
What we can’t master, we marry, hire, befriend or give birth to. If you surround yourself with good people with complementary mindsets, skills and outlooks, then every collaboration will be filled with learning, surprises, adventures and new discoveries. At times, it’s going to be frustrating and uncomfortable, but persevere because you are good alone but stronger together. Lean on others.
19. Play. Laugh. Imagine.
Foster play. We’re at our best when we’re playing. Play the trickster and the fool. Laugh. We are most comfortable with ourselves and others when we are laughing. Imagine new possibilities, combinations and realms that don’t yet exist.
20. Reinvent yourself, periodically.
Shedding old skins is nature’s way of stretching us to become our fuller selves. Get comfortable with it.
Clearly, this remains an evolving manifesto.