I Do Love Writing Manifestos. Here’s My 11-Point Manifesto for Podcasting.

As I mention in episode 76 of the Happier podcast, I love writing manifestos — and I think it’s a very valuable exercise. Whenever I try to distill my ideas into a clear, succinct list, I find that my understanding improves, and I have a much better sense of what I’m trying to do.

I’ve done a Happiness Manifesto and a Habits Manifesto. And, of course, when Elizabeth and I started our podcast, I had to write a Podcast Manifesto.

As with all my Manifestos, this one is aspirational. It’s not necessarily what I do, it’s what I try to do.

Here it is:

  1. Be clear about what we’re doing.
  2. Remember the four desires of the listener: hunger for stories; fun of companionship; desire to learn; ease of listening.
  3. Be consistent, and also surprise.
  4. We don’t have conflict, but we do have differences.
  5. The more we reveal ourselves, the more others connect with us.
  6. Beware of banter.
  7. Remember how people listen.
  8. People love to learn, and people love to teach and share.
  9. It’s good to have fans, and it’s great to have a community.
  10. Connect with listeners in as many ways as possible.
  11. A strong voice repels as well as attracts.

I find myself thinking about the points of the Manifesto often, when we’re preparing and recording each episode. Let me know if you think I’ve forgotten something for this manifesto.

Do you find it helpful to write a manifesto — for work, family life, a creative endeavor, life aims?

  • Lizah

    Curious – what does “remember how people listen” mean?

    These seem like great tips for anyone doing a talk show, panel, or interview as well.

    • gretchenrubin

      In this case, it means things like – some people are “completists” – they go back and listen from episode #1. Some people binge-listen, so they might listen to all the episodes in a very short amount of time. Etc. Helps to remember this, as we’re planning our discussions.

  • Judy

    I enjoyed reading this from a listener’s perspective. Helped me understand why I listen to your podcast regularly and more than any other. Not a manifesto writer myself, but do like lists. Something to think about. Thanks!

  • ReneeG

    Enjoying reading all the manifestos and wedding readings. At a wedding of a dear friend, the bride’s father read an excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit. I had read this book to my own children for years, but had never thought about it in this context. After 23 years of my own marriage, this simple reading hit me like a ton of bricks. That, combined with knowing this couple and all they’d been through…. it was perfect, and I cry just thinking about it.

    ‘What is REAL?’ asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. ‘Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?’

    ‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When someone loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

    ‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

    ‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

    ‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

    ‘ It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.’

    ‘I suppose you are real?’ said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse only smiled.

    ‘Someone made me Real,’ he said. ‘That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.’

    Margery Williams (1881 – 1944)

  • ChrisD

    You know it’s quite funny. I was rereading the Happiness Project and when you mentioned trying to get all the blinking lights out of your bedroom you mentioned your blackberries. Remember those! I was reminded of that when you mentioned having had your smart phone for a 100 years. How fast technology moves.

  • mom2luke

    Love the demerits and gold stars and now I realize why: Each is connected to a fresh story (with a lesson). We do love listening to good story telling.

  • michaelmelcher

    What does “beware of banter” mean? Are you referring to the annoyance that listeners feel when presenters seem to be having a private, personal chat (the way that local TV anchors sometimes do) or talk pointlessly about trivial, unrelated things (also the way that local TV anchors do)? Or is it something else?

    • gretchenrubin


  • Miranda Johnson

    I really like number 11. Could you say more about it?

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