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Manifestos from Change This

We don’t believe humans evolved to be so bad at making decisions, so poor at changing our minds, so violent in arguing our point of view. - ChangeThis

The name Michael Pollan caught my eye in the body of an e-mail I received sometime last week. I'd heard he'd written a new book that continued his exploration of plants and food in The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore's Dilemma, both which I enjoyed very much. Following the e-mail link took me to the ChangeThis website where a long list of "manifestos" can be downloaded. I read several this weekend including:

An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollen. Snippets: 

... the “What to eat” question is somewhat complicated for us than it is for, say, cows. Yet for most of human history, humans have navigated the question without expert advice. To guide us we had, instead, Culture, which, at least when it comes to food, is really just a fancy word for your mother. What to eat, how much of it to eat, what order in which to eat it, with what and when and with whom em.jpghave for most of human history been a set of questions long settled and passed down from parents to children without a lot of controversy or fuss.

But over the last several decades, mom lost much of her authority over the dinner menu, ceding it to scientists and food marketers (often an unhealthy alliance of the two) and, to a lesser extent, to the government, with its ever-shifting dietary guidelines, food-labeling rules, and perplexing pyramids. Think about it: Most of us no longer eat what our mothers ate as children or, for that matter, what our mothers fed us as children. This is, historically speaking, an unusual state of affairs.

 We are becoming a nation of orthorexics: people with an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating.


Free Your Ass and Your Mind Will Follow: Embodied Leadership by Jamie Wheal. Snippets: 

When cocksure consultants come into your organization and start talking about Essential Qualities of Leaders—as likely freeyour.jpgas not, they ground them in physical metaphors like “Balance,” “Flexibility,” “Resilience” and “Vision”. But honestly, how many of today’s overworked, under-rested, out of shape leaders do you know who can even touch their toes? And how are they supposed to communicate these vital qualities to their teams if they can’t even locate them in their own bodies? 

Psychologist Carol Dweck (formerly at Columbia, now at Stanford) has unearthed a fascinating correlation between this “talent mindset” and a more open-ended “growth mindset”—both with real impact on how leaders themselves learn and how companies hire and motivate. According to Dweck’s findings, about half of us attribute our success and failure to our innate or fixed talents while the other half chalk our wins and losses up to effort. But authority figures can shift people from one mindset to another with as little as a few words based on whether they praise hard work and effort, or fixed skill and talent. In one particularly stark example, students praised for their ability (e.g. “you’re smart”) rather than
their effort (e.g. “you worked hard”) responded by:

  • Avoiding future assignments they knew to be more challenging
  • Performing worse over time in both absolute and relative scores (compared to classmates 
  • in the Growth Mindset)
  • Inflating their scores to other students to further protect their self-images

Ideaicide: How to Avoid It and Get What You Want by Alan Parr and Karen Ansbaugh. Snippets:

How you present an idea is of paramount importance to its success. More often than not, if you don’t use the right words and images, you won’t set the foundation for the rest of the conversation to follow. You need to present your idea through concrete images, associations and stories that are within people’s comfort zones. a little “wow” factor helps, too.

ideacide.jpgIn describing something new, something beyond most people’s vision, you need to create a mental map for them to follow you and your idea to its successful conclusion. The art of making a mental map is to hook your audience with what they know and then explain what they don’t know. Start with a construct that everyone is familiar with and add to it.

So how do you create a construct for something that people have never come across before? Make up a new word. The title of this manifesto, “Ideaicide,” is a fine example. It cuts through the clutter and gives everyone a new word that they can agree on. If we called it “Innovation,” we would find that a lot of people have their own notions of what innovation means.


Helping people to create mental maps and shortcuts through clever word use allows everyone to be on the same page when you get to the heart of your idea. Illustrated metaphors help people grasp and retain your idea. a little razzle-dazzle makes them pay attention. When you buy something, doesn't the packaging play a role in piquing your interest?

There are dozens of these short documents at the ChangeThis site, ranging from Jessica Hage's collection of Hugh McLeod-like sketches called Indexing a Career to the more traditional Tom Peter's 100 Ways to Help You Succeed/Make Money. (With! All! His! Typical! Exclamation! Points!)

ChangeThis has been around since 2004 (according to their website) and looks like a means of authors and consultants to introduce their work to the business world.  Fun and rewarding reading - and the price is right!

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