Last week, with the She’s the First Press Committee, I attended a panel entitled “Branding: Yourself, Your Business and Your Causes,”  hosted by Step Up Women’s Network and as part of S.H.E. Summit Week. The panel consisted of four fantastic women–MTV/Viacom’s Cheryl J. Family, Style for Hire CEO Cindy McLaughlin, Sony’s Carolyn Williams, and @DKNY’s Aliza Licht–and was moderated by style personality Tai Beachamp. It was standing room only and completely inspiring.

The evening’s discussion focused primarily on personal branding, for which I was very grateful as I am currently navigating a career change and trying, on a daily basis, to figure out what my purpose is. The idea of a personal manifesto was mentioned several times. The panel agreed that when it comes to branding yourself it is important to have a clear idea of your own personal mission statement, and to be able to effectively communicate that to your peers/clients/the world. This got me thinking about what my manifesto might be, but before I could figure that out I needed a clearer idea of what a manifesto is…

As defined by Merriam-Webster

Manifesto comes from the latin word “manifest,” meaning “to reveal.” A manifesto reveals your intent. Some famous manifestos include:

  • The Ten Commandments
  • The Declaration of Independence
  • The Communist Manifesto
  • “I Have a Dream” Speech
  • JFK’s “Man on the Moon” Address
  • The Hacker Manifesto

I thought that reading a few others might stir up some inspiration for me to come up with my own…

The Holstee Manifesto

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fellowship Assets" written to guide his apprentices

The Women in Business Manifesto

Apple's Manifesto, as written by COO Tim Cook in 2009 when Steve Jobs went on medical leave

Lululemon's Manifesto

I also started asking people around me what their personal manifesto might be. I found that we are inspired by all sorts of things; quotes, lyrics, art, music:

16Hours Magazine Manifesto; Kaitlin Davis


William Henry Channing quote; Katie Reilly

Incubus lyrics; Brittany Brothers

J.R.R. Tolkien quote; Brittany Brothers

Rock the prom, rock the world; Tammy Tibbetts

“If I imagine my individual life as a stone dropped into a pond, I want the ripples to be good ones– in my relationships with others, in my impact on the planet, even in the way my moments alone are spent enjoying beauty in music or a garden, because it all interconnects. I simply want to be part of making the world better, and I think each of us can do that in ways that range from the tiniest choices (a smile, throwing the can in the recycle bin and not the trash) to the monumental ones like donating our organs at death or helping others recover from a crisis. I just want to be part of making things better.” -Catherine Comins, Ph.D. (my mom)

I encourage all of you, if you haven’t already, to think about what your manifesto is. I think that creating a manifesto for oneself can bring purpose, direction, and accountability to a life. Quite simply, once you publicly state that you are going to do something you are more likely to follow through.

So, what is my manifesto? It is certainly still a work in progress, but thank you for indulging me and allowing me to share with you what I’ve come up with so far:

  • I will dedicate my life to child advocacy and education reform.
  • I will fight for the inherent right that every child has to experience a safe and joyful childhood, to receive a quality education, and to create their own future.
  • I will teach children, by example and instruction, that they are worthy of having a dream, capable of pursuing it, and powerful enough to achieve it.


I would like to thank She’s the First, Claudia Chan, the Step Up Women’s Network, and the fabulously inspiring women that spoke on that panel for helping me to arrive at this point: I have something important to say, to give, to do for this world. And now that I have “manifesto’d” it, now that I have publicly revealed my intent, I am going to hold myself to this declaration, and I hope that you will too.