6 words only!

Legend has it that Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. His response?

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Intriguing isn’t it?

In 2006, SMITH Magazine re-ignited the concept by asking its readers for their own six-word memoirs. Blogs, a book and video followed. (Be warned it is a secular site).

I love the idea of forced choices–of self-imposed limitations. I find it instructive to ask questions during organizational assessments that require hard, limiting, difficult choices. The limitation forces the manager to distill their priorities to the very essence. That helps as we sort out what is most important.

I like the challenge of writing taglines because the limitation is 6 to 10 words (don’t email saying that it is 12 words or 5 words–come on, the point is that it’s short–right?)

I’m not a huge Twitter-user, Twitterer?, Tweeterer, Twit? (One reason I have trouble with Twitter is that the name is difficult for me to take seriously.) But I find it interesting that one is forced to work within a 140-character limitation. 140 characters seems like Tolstoy compared to 6 words.

Because we live in a verbose, information-bloated world, getting your essence, your brand, your ministry’s DNA into a few words is a powerful tool. A few powerful words can cut through the clutter. But you have to find the right words.

6 words.


Here’s the exercise: how would you describe your brand in 6 words? It could be your ministry. It could be your personal brand–what you as a professional stand for. But only 6 words. I’m going to use the honor system on hyphenated words.

Here’s a few of my 6 word thoughts about the Oneicity brand (I’m springing this on Hoots, so even she doesn’t get a head start):

-Relationship focused revolutionaries change fundraising forever.

-Cutting-edge strategy and analysis for everyone!

-Genuine relationships trump technique every time.

Once Hoots has a chance to process this, we’ll collaborate and decide what the Oneicity 6 words are. But until then, what are your 6?

Jump in, it’ll be fun. Share your thoughts in just 6 words.

Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

(photo credits: Wikipedia)

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

2 thoughts on “6 words only!”

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