In considering the Meaning of Life, we got into the exercise of looking back on one's life, and looking forward to the balance of one's life and summing it all up by choosing the words one would want on their tombstone.
How would you write your epitaph? Try it in a maximum of 12 words. It's an interesting exercise to consider your entire life, being, personality, hopes, dreams, and ambitions, achievements... in only 12 words or less.
I took a shot at it and came up with something like: "He Lived Life On His Terms, One Perfect Day At A Time" without thinking about it at all, and it just happened to be 12 words exactly. But about an hour later I started changing things, of course. The first 6 words seemed to be too self-centered, so I improved it to be "A Giver, Who Lived One Perfect Day At A Time." And only 10 words, so much more economical to carve into stone. There's a win-win! But wait, there's more: "Loved Helping Others Succeed. Planning New Adventures To The End."
The exercise continues for a lifetime, as we evolve and refine our raison d'etre. Maybe you would prefer humor, such as "I Knew This Would Happen" or, as the comedy legend W.C. Fields is said to have wanted on his grave: "I'd Rather Be Here Than In Philadelphia." I was born and raised in Philadelphia, so I can relate to his thinking.
Why 12 words? Why not 10 or 20? Is there some ideal number of words for an epitaph? Should it be written in the third person or the first person (He vs. I)? There's a lot to think about when you try to condense a life into a few words.
But it's easier than a vanity license plate! In California you get a maximum of 7 letters or numbers, and it must be Unique! I like getting a new license plate every once in a while, after I get inspired by some new project. For the last few years I've been exploring the 10x theme, as in One Order of Magnitude.
The principle of 10x is that my goal is to help others gain rewards 10 times what they would otherwise enjoy without my help. That is my goal with each of my Protégés. According to my way of thinking, if I can do that for someone else, then I'll be well taken care of. It's the law of Karma.
Is it weird that I have a collection of old vanity plates? Probably. But I figure that getting a new license plate is cheaper than getting a new car.
An epitaph, to me as an entrepreneur, is really a subset of an Elevator Story, which is a subset of an Executive Summary, which is a subset of a Pitch Deck, which is a subset of a website, which is a subset of a Business Plan. Each is a bit of copy/content of different lengths, starting with the shortest, most focused elements, and increasing in length as needed to get the customer/investor/new team member, whoever, to say YES.
The Hierarchy of Content:
Vanity Plate - 7 letters/numbers
Epitaph - 12 words max
Tag Line - short phrase describing the business
Elevator Story - 30 - 60 seconds
Executive Summary - 1 page
Pitch Deck - 10 slides minimum, 10 minutes max
Business Plan - a collection of Plans, including projections and requirements, for marketing, sales, personnel, distribution, financial...
Web presence (site/blog/store) - buy, request info, FAQs, support, news...
The more clearly, congruently, and persuasively you can write each level of the hierarchy, the more likely you will succeed, all other things being equal.