Utopia 2016: Fight for Your Write

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Before I created the utopYA (now Utopia) Convention, I was at the helm of Social Deviants, a company I created to help indie-preneurs build and market their passions, their businesses, online and off. Something you should know about me is that I believe that business should be personal. I don’t buy into the “it’s just business, don’t take it personally” BS. I don’t want to work with anyone who isn’t bleeding from their hearts about what it is they do for a living. I don’t want anyone doing anything they believe doesn’t matter — to them or others — ever. I want people to use their powers for good, to push the human race forward.

Lately, I’m finding that my Social Deviants life and my Utopia life are merging in ways I never expected. Since I’ve started to infuse my own personal beliefs about business- and LIFE-building into Utopia, I’ve attracted amazing writers to some of my online courses and teleclasses. I’ve worked privately with book cover designers, photographers and other publishing industry experts to help them create workshops, services and packages. Utopia, I believe, is not the place to pimp my “other” business. However, I needed for you to know the background as we move forward with the 2016 theme for Utopia Con.

REVOLUTION. Why did I pick this theme? Well, originally, it was a whole other theme. Since 2013, I’ve known what I wanted the five-year anniversary theme to be. Unfortunately, another signing event decided to use it in 2016, as well. It happens. It’s a popular theme, and it wasn’t like I had announced it. But, needless to say I was BUMMMMMMMED. For more than two months I beat my head against the wall trying to figure out a theme that was “milestone worthy” as I kept calling it. What theme could make our five-year anniversary monumental? What theme could usher in the next five years?

About this time, several things happened:

1. I was teaching another StandUP.StandOUT teleclass to writers that connects the mindset pieces to the marketing pieces. One of our classes focuses on WHAT YOU BELIEVE and WHY YOU BELIEVE IT.

2. Cyber bullying in the publishing space was picking up steam in ways I didn’t like. Anne Rice is actually dedicating a research project on this topic.

3. Piracy of books was also becoming more problematic.

4. Changes within Facebook algorithms, changes at Amazon (KDP Unlimited, for instance), and changes at other online networks and sites, were seriously affecting visibility and income for new and established authors. Finding readers was becoming harder.

5. Ultimately, I was seeing yet another shift in the publishing and writing and fan landscape. What was working only a year ago, was not working anymore.

As I was teaching the class mentioned above, it just clicked. In order for us to take back our futures, we needed to lead a new revolution. We need to band together for positive change for all. Revolutions are led by the PEOPLE. Revolutions start with revelations. I want to share with you one of the class modules I teach that shares how Idea Rebellions can change the world, can lead to Revolutions of epic.

Rebel with a Cause

Every great thinker, inventor or movement started with a single person with an idea. An idea that went against the mainstream thought or processes of its time. An idea about how to make things better — technology, health, tools, information, services, products, governments…life. These ideas are acts of rebellion before they are even uttered. Yet, they became. They were willed into existence because they were meant to push life forward. They were planted in the minds and hearts of men and women because they were meant to challenge us.

We are meant to ask “why.” We are meant to provoke, spur debate and instigate new solutions, alternatives and methods. That doesn’t mean that all acts of “idea rebellion”are violent. In fact, in my heart I believe that idea rebellion is supposed to be born of a love so great and so powerful that we do crazy things to push ideas into being. Of course, there are those in history whose ideas are born of illness, hatred and misunderstanding. However, it is in our disgust and because of our love that we push back and defend good with our own ideas. Ideas become causes when shared with others and fertilized with action.

You are called to rebel. What is it about your industry, your work, your environment that needs to change? What cause is worth living for?

The Founding Fathers of America

Some of the most famous founding fathers include: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, John Hancock and Thomas Jefferson. Among them you will find writers, inventors, thought leaders and risk-takers. Each of them had ideas of their own, but together they forged an idea, declared it to the world, and made it a cause worth living and dying for. When they wrote the Declaration of Independence, they knew damn well what message they were sending the king back in the homeland. But they held steadfast to their beliefs, so much so that they wrote them down and created a new country and system of government around them. Their shared ideas and beliefs were grounded in truths so embedded in their hearts that there was no other course of action, and there was absolutely no compromise or turning back. Their guts, their vision and their idea rebellion changed the world.

The Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. This has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language,” containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history.” This first sentence, which asserts the rights of all men, and every single sentence that follows, were carefully crafted. These words were pained over, argued over, agonized over until they represented a document that could articulate clearly the disagreements, the meaning and the rights of the writers and the people for which the writers stood. The next section, the preamble, includes the ideas and ideals that were principles of the Declaration. If you haven’t read the Declaration of Independence since grade school, I encourage you to do so. It is a lesson in morality, how to craft ideas into words, and is a credit to the power of vision, teamwork and hope. The next section lists the charges. The list of infractions, injustices and basically the “we’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore” facts. The conclusion sets their intent. They declare what solutions they intend to take to rectify the wrongs. The Declaration of Independence inspired the Women’s Suffrage “Declaration of Sentiments,” as well as the French Republic’s “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.” That’s how powerful the ideas and ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence truly were and are.

In order to stand out…you must stand up

Nobody follows a Facebook wallflower. No one remembers the “yes” man or woman. You’re not the only one out there who thinks what you think, who believes what you believe about your work, your industry, your life or the way the world works. Keep those beliefs inside, and you deny yourself community. Leave things in the status quo when you know in your gut that things need to change or be done differently, and everyone suffers. And that’s the true crime. State your case. Come up with solutions solo, with a team or with a community of like-minded people. Make yourself useful. Find a cause worth living for and stand up for it.

Manifest with a Manifesto

A manifesto is a public declaration of principles and intentions. The Declaration of Independence is one example of a manifesto. I’m going to give you a few more examples, but first I want to remind you of the structure of a manifesto:

  1. Assert your right or the rights of the community you want to serve.
  2. Include your ideas and ideals that are the principles of your declaration.
  3. State your charges — list the injustices, gaps, overlooked needs — that are holding back positive progress.
  4. Declare what you intend to do about it — offer solutions, or support a cause, or start a movement, or create a service, or restate your idea as a lifechoice and lifestyle for you and your community.

I wanted to remind you of the structure because some of the following examples only include one or two of the structures. a. Some are motivational (The Holstee Manifesto). b. Others only state grievances (Occupy Wallstreet). c. Pamela Slim’s “Open Letter to CEOs, COOs, CIOs and CFOs across the corporate world” is a full manifesto even if she does not call it so. It lists the ideals she believes in, her list of grievances, the solutions, and what she intends to do. d. Jerry Maguire’s Mission Statement: This one is ficitional, yes, but so worth the read.

Now it’s your turn to declare what you will no longer put up with and what you intend to do about it by birthing your idea, ideals and principles onto the page. It’s time for your Revelation. It’s time for your Manifesto. It could be one of the single most important documents you write about your life or your business. No pressure 😉 I say document, but it could be a video or song or poem or photo essay just as easily as a document.

Let your truth shine. In the months leading up to Utopia, I am challenging attendees and anyone else out there who reads this, to write down what you believe. To declare your revelations. To create your manifesto. I’ll be unveiling the Utopia Manifesto soon. I will also be sharing manifestos written by authors to inspire and encourage you. It’s time to #FightForYourWrite

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