This is scary

On the launch of my company's manifesto

Oh hey you, and thanks for letting me nestle in your inbox for another evening. It’s an hour-and-change from the time I emailed my customers with my new manifesto to the time I started this post. What I sent is the most significant piece of positioning I’ve ever done. It’s bold, it might be a little brave, and it’s opinionated AF. I stand by every word of it, and it was still easier to write than the actual email pointing people to the thing.

Anyway, I wanted to share it with you in the hope that it might help inspire you, if you’re making something right now, to figure out who you want to make it for, and by contrast, who it’s not for.

(By the way, I’m sorry I use “I” so much… I guess I don’t really know a better way to express these kinds of ideas, as it’s not about passing on knowledge but rather sharing a lived experience. So I hope you can bear it, and we’ll plough on.)

I talked a little bit about the manifesto last week, and you sent some lovely responses back, so thank you. As I write now, the email is 90 minutes old and I’ve had two pieces of heartwarming feedback from two people, one of which nearly made me cry. I won’t embarrass them, but I will be replying in person and they will have a slice of my considerably large gratitude. 🍰

The manifesto exists for similar reasons to the ones I laid out in last week’s “just cause” post. To a degree, it’s about saying “I’m no longer aiming simply to compete, I’m aiming to serve”. I think that, when you know who you want to make something for — be it software, handbags, YouTube videos or cupcakes — the work is in finding those people, connecting with them, showing up, and perhaps leading where necessary… but also making space for others to lead when they’ve got a better sense of the terrain than you. When that’s your work, it’s about making what best suits that tribe, rather than looking at what’s over the fence and trying to make your own version.

OK, so that’s enough ramble. I wanted to directly share the text of the manifesto here so you can read it right in your email app, without having to navigate a site that has a different design on your attention. So, here goes. There are also some extra bits, and of course the video, over at podiant.co/us.

We stand for something.

We are compassionate liberals, and while our social views might not appear in our work, we won’t pass up on an opportunity to defend them. We believe that Black lives matter, that anatomy does not determine gender, and that society only improves when we all contribute to help those who need it.

We also understand that the rate of cultural evolution is accelerating, and that not all of us are at the same point in this journey. Part of being compassionate is being open to those who are still wrestling with their own cultural norms or ingrained biases, and it’s through compassion rather than shame that we can help others grow.

We want to take ownership over our work.

As part of an open ecosystem governed by evolving standards, rather than a closed marketplace where success is determined by an algorithm, we’re in the rare position to take full ownership over our creative output. We want to own the venue for showcasing our work, not rent it.

We know that independent podcasting is worth preserving, and want to ensure our work remains open to our audience, who should be able to access it without a proprietary app or a walled-off subscription service.

We own the work we’ve produced, so we get to decide if and how to make money from it, and who else benefits as a result. We don’t want to sign over our copyright or creative control in exchange for free space.

We improvise, iterate, and improve.

We take pride in our work, and want to work with people who recognise the effort that goes into it. We don’t just hit Record, open a fader and start speaking: we plan, we do the research, and we edit.

We’re always looking for ways to improve our work, to connect with others, or to find new audiences. We know there’s no quick fix, and we don’t think ‘growth’ is something that can be achieved with a single click, but rather with consistency, high quality, hard work, and a bit of luck.

Sometimes a great podcast is just that.

Not every podcast needs to reach 50,000 downloads per month in order to sell mattresses. We know that even some of the most well-regarded podcasts can exist purely for the art and the joy.

Because we know that a podcast exists to tell a story, communicate an idea, or purely just to entertain, we want to focus on making the best piece of work we can. If we can build and mobilise our audience by leveraging the trust and the goodwill we’ve earned, even better. We do not believe in shortcutting that trust by letting someone else inject their words into ours, and we believe that listeners have a right to remain anonymous and not have their habits and tastes tracked without consent.

Information is free, but time and experience have value.

Those of us who trade in knowledge know that ideas spread and multiply, and good ideas can’t be locked away in a silo. We believe that sharing our knowledge and insight is a great way to build trust and foster a community.

Many of us have skills we can share, and ways to apply our expertise to individual situations, and that we determine what we get in exchange for it. We reject the notion that exposure is a currency, and believe that our time and attention is valuable.

We don't just have a podcast. We are podcasters.

Our identity as podcasters isn’t governed by the number or consistency of episodes we’ve produced, or the number of listeners we have, but is in part by our commitment to making the best thing we can with the resources we have to hand.

We may have a single long-running project or a string of experiments. We may not all share the same views on music, pop culture, sport, or even politics, but we all know the joy of someone hearing our work and enjoying it. We appreciate the opportunity we have to use our voices to reach other people, to bring information, entertainment, or company.