Thought Leadership Content

Thought Leadership Content – What is a Manifesto? 

Thought Leaders sell their ideas and they can do this by sharing thought leadership content. 

But in a noisy marketplace where everyone is yelling for attention, how do you attract your ideal clients and keep them coming back for more again and again?

You don’t do this based on pricing, special offers or gimmicks. 

What separates one Thought Leader from the next is their philosophy about how the world works.

But philosophy can be a vague and intellectual thing. How can we create and share this in a simple way? 

Your challenge as a thought leader is to define how you see the world – in a simple and easy way so your clients can buy into your philosophy.

The key is to use a simple structure like a rule-based manifesto that shares your philosophy as a set of easy-to-read statements that can easily be expanded into a book, a coaching program or a keynote presentation.

In this post, we’ll share three types of Manifestos: What is a:

  • Manifesto
  • Thought Leadership Manifesto
  • Rules-Based Manifesto

Plus, how Stephen Covey used a manifesto framework to write his world-famous book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

The Flood of Thought Leadership Content

Stephen Covey - The Seven Habits of Highly Effective PeopleWhen you type ‘leadership experts’ into Google there are 550 million responses. For ‘strategy experts’ there are 719 million responses and for ‘innovation experts’ there is a whopping 869 million responses.

That’s over two billion pages on just three types of business experts. The good news is that this refers to pages and not people. The bad news is that this shows how much content is on the web. And worse, it shows how much competition there is for Thought Leadership Content.

This raises the big question, in such a noisy and crowded market, how do you get noticed so you can attract a new client?

More importantly, once you have worked with a new client, how do you keep them coming back to work with you year after year when there is so much competition out there?

What separates one Thought Leader from another? 

The answer to these two questions comes down to what separates one thought leader from another.

Imagine if we were to download ten pieces of Thought Leadership content from the web on the same topic from ten different experts and put them up on the wall next to each other.

What would be the difference between these thought leadership content examples?

While they may be similar, they would all show slightly different strategies for success. And these different strategies would reflect different worldviews or philosophies. They would reflect how we all see the world differently.

Content Marketing Business Philosophy


The key to attracting your ideal clients is to be able to show your unique take on the world, your unique philosophy for creating business success. The more clearly you can do this, the more likely you are to attract your ideal clients.

The number one thing I want my clients to say about me is ‘I like the way you think’ because when your client says that, they have bought into your way of thinking about the world. And if that’s the case they will keep coming back to you again and again in the future.

What is a Manifesto?

What is a manifesto?

I’ve spent a lot of time creating, curating and collecting manifestos. Over at I’ve collected over 250 examples.

It follows that I’ve had a lot of conversations about manifestos. Whenever I ask people, ‘what is a manifesto’ they usually reply with one of two answers:

  1. A rant from a crazy person about to kill people – now that’s not good press for a manifesto!
  2. Or a tool for change used in art, social movements or politics.

By definition, a manifesto is a public declaration of your intent.

What is a Manifesto? Definition

Three Famous Manifesto Examples

Let’s look at three famous manifesto examples.

  1. The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engel which was a book about society and politics and in particular, the struggles of the working class in the world of capitalism.
  2. Martin Luther King’s I have a Dream speech is another popular manifesto. It has often been rated as the most famous speech of all time. 
  3. US President John F Kennedy’s Man on the Moon speech declaring that the US will land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s.

Social Manifesto - Show us the world you want to see

These three examples are all in the public arena. Their manifesto is based on the world we want to see. I call this type of manifesto a ‘world manifesto’. 

  1. Marx and Engel are describing the world they want to see for workers.
  2. Martin Luther King is literally describing the world he wants to see and live in free from racism.
  3. JFK is literally describing seeing a man taking a step onto the surface of the moon.

What is a Thought Leaders Manifesto?

What is a Thought Leaders Manifesto? For thought leaders operating in the world of business, their manifesto needs to be a little different.

Thought Leadership Content Manifesto - tell us how to win in business

In the business world, the purpose of your thought leadership manifesto is to help your clients become more successful in business.

(We talked about this in a previous post: Share what you know about business success)

For example, if you are a thought leader in innovation, then your manifesto will be about how to be more successful as an innovator. If you are a thought leader in the leadership space, it’s how to lead better. Or if you are in the strategy space, it’s how to do better strategy.

This is your philosophy of how to win in your area of business.

It follows that if you lined up ten leadership or innovation or strategy experts they would all have a different approach, a different philosophy for winning.

This is what your clients are buying from you – your strategy for winning.

What is a Rules-Based Manifesto? 

A Rules-Based Manifesto is one of four types of manifestos

The big problem with philosophy is that it can be vague and intellectual. That’s not going to work in a business environment. Instead, we want something specific and practical.

Rules-Based Manifesto

The key to this is to create a rules-based manifesto. (I talked about this in the post, Thought Leadership Content Marketing.) There are two levels of this.

  1. An overarching context.
  2. The set of rules of how to win in that context.

Stephen Covey’s Manifesto

Stephen CoveyStephen Covey’s book is one of the biggest selling business books of all time.

Since it was published in 1989, it has been sold over 25 million times. That’s one book for every person in Australia.

The first part of Covey’s approach is his context or viewpoint. Back in the 1980’s when Covey did his research, most self-help books were based on personality. Covey said there is a better way and that is to pursue the character ethic based on values and timeless principles. In other words, character-building habits.

Then in this new context, he proposes seven habits or actions that need to be repeated if you want to be highly effective.

The key here is that these principles can be shared in lots of different ways. For instance, if you’ve read Covey’s book, I’ll bet that you can remember some or all of his seven principles. They are:

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think win-win
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw

Creating Thought Leadership Content with a Manifesto

Importantly, they can also be expanded. Covey wrote a chapter about each one and this became his book. They also became modules in a training program that helped grow Covey Franklin into a global business.

This is a great example of thought leadership.

While I have no evidence that Covey ever used the word ‘manifesto’, his book follows the basic structure of what I’ve called a rule-based manifesto. He sets a fresh context and then proposes rules for winning in that context. He is saying, this is the context and this is how you win.

If you’re a leadership expert, what’s your context for how to be successful as a leader? And what specific rules or actions do we need to take?

And this is how you can use a manifesto to define your thought leadership content so you can attract your ideal clients and keep them coming back to work with you again and again.

Summary: Thought Leadership Content

Let’s wrap up what we’ve covered here. 

  • The key to Thought Leadership Content is to be clear about your philosophy – how you see the world.
  • To share your philosophy in a simple way, use a rule-based manifesto.
  • If you want to create social change then show us the world you want to live in.
  • Alternatively, if you are working in the business world, show us how to be successful in business.
  • The better you can articulate your philosophy the greater chance you have of enrolling a client into working with you. This will help you attract your ideal clients and keep them coming back to you in the future.

More on Thought Leadership Content

Here are some more posts and videos to help you go further on creating your thought leadership content:

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