Do you have a mantra?
Guy Kawasaki, founding partner of Garage Technology Ventures™, thinks you should. In his book, The Art of the Start, Guy devotes a section to mantras in the very first chapter.
It’s that important.
The book’s section titled “Making Mantra” is short and to the point. Using just over two pages, he lays out the concept quickly, yet completely. It doesn’t take much time to describe them – after all, mantras are short.
However, it may take you some time to make your mantra. It’s not something you come up with on the spur of the moment.
Or even overnight.
But finding your mantra causes an explosion in your business, propelling you forward. Ask Nike, Disney or Starbucks. They all have mantras.
Maybe you should, too.
What is a mantra anyway?
A mantra is not a mission statement. Not even close.
Mission statements are often loaded with lots of words and ideas that mean little or nothing when you sit down and really dissect them.
They are sometimes full of highfalutin, all-encompassing jargon-ridden text. That’s what’s expected. Many investors love them that way; and you might need one eventually.
But crafting a mission statement first frequently takes too much time and effort to write when it might not be necessary yet, particularly in the beginning stages of a business venture.
According to Mr. Kawasaki, that’s one of the fundamental shortcomings of mission statements. He believes that entrepreneurs and startups expend too much effort on crafting a mission statement, usually ending up with fantastically mediocre results.
They spend way too much time on the painful and often frustrating process of mission-statementing.
Time better spent elsewhere – like creating a meaningful mantra.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines a mantra as:
A sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation or incantation, such as an invocation of a god, a magic spell, or a syllable or portion of scripture containing mystical potentialities.
Sounds powerful, doesn’t it. Maybe even sends chills up and down your spine.
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not getting all spiritual on you.
What I’m saying is that you should have one, extremely short phrase that sums it all up. A simple formula that brings everything into focus when it’s spoken or thought or invoked. Perhaps two or three words that remind you of who you are, what you do and what you’re trying to accomplish.
Sometimes one word will do.
Examples of mantra making
I mentioned three successful businesses that have mantras. Unless they’ve changed, here are their mantras:
- Nike – Authentic athletic performance
- Disney – Fun family entertainment
- Starbucks – Rewarding everyday moments
These are cited from Scott Bedbury’s book, A New Brand World: 8 Principles for Achieving Brand Leadership in the 21st Century (Kindle version, Penguin Group LLC).
Do you see how simple and yet powerful they are? These examples are all three words each; and yet they all sum up their respective company’s meaning, purpose and direction.
They roll almost effortlessly off the tongue. Easy to say and easy to remember, these mantras can be invoked to produce powerful, meaningful results.
Making mantra makes focus
I’ve got a mantra myself.
I made my mantra several decades ago. Like a trusted old friend, it’s been with me through thick and thin. And it helps me focus on my core beliefs and ideas about writing – which is good, because that’s what I do.
In case you wondered, my mantra is included in the title for this essay. Well, the acronym for it, to be more precise – SEW.
SEW stands for “Simple Effective Writing.” Nothing earth shattering there, right? Didn’t give you goose bumps, did it?
But to me, it’s powerful stuff. And it hasn’t changed in 30+ years.
Not even when the subject matter has. Once discovered, this mantra guided my work no matter what I was writing about or for whom.
It still does.
Whether it’s text for software, tech, business or even for fun, my work must get the SEW stamp of approval before it’s allowed to run loose in the world.
It’s like there’s this little guy sitting on my shoulder and he’s constantly whispering in my ear: Simple effective writing, simple effective writing . . . SEW, SEW, SEW!
It’s my personal internal message. It’s not my tagline or my website’s message. It’s not my mission or my vision or even my values statement. Those are always subject to changes or modifications. Even so, the changes are always guided and influenced by that mantra.
But my mantra . . . it’s never changed and never will. It’s me. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. It’s the sum of everything “Steve the writer guy” stands for.
Now . . . make YOUR mantra
I’ve shared mine with you.
And that doesn’t happen often because, like I said, it’s my personal internal message. Better write it down, for you’ll probably never see it again.
If you’re a writer, copywriter or content marketer, you can borrow it if you like. I don’t hold the copyright on it.
If it will help you succeed, go for it!
Now it’s time for you to make your mantra. Set aside a chunk of time in your busy day to think and contemplate. A powerful mantra may take several days or even weeks to formulate. If you can, make sure your business partners are involved in making your company’s mantra.
- What meaning does your business, product or service hold?
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Do you want to change the world? How?
- What are your core values and beliefs?
- What effect do you want to have on the world and your prospective market?
- Who are you, really, deep down inside?
You might have other questions you should answer as well.
Distill all that thinking into one sentence, phrase or even one word. When you speak it, does it create a spark? When you think it, does it give you focus? Will it drive every part of your business, moving you forward (or holding you back if necessary) when invoked?
Take some quality time and make your own mantra. Don’t worry. The world can wait another day or even a week to discover your innovative offering. But it needs your focus first.
SEW long for now,
PS. If you already have a mantra, why not share it in the comments? Let us know what it is and why you chose it! That just might help someone else discover theirs.