What's your sentimental idea of success?

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My dear muses in business,

What if I told you that business is an art? That every aspect of it — from customer service to marketing funneling to ordering process — can be made beautiful, more loving, and even poetic? What if you did not just leave your customers satisfied? What if you weren’t just efficient but also a little bit romantic? What if you took the time to beautify the process and made your followers feel a little more immersed, a little more curious, a little more stoked and surprised? What if you could lead with more sentimentality in these disenchanting times?

One of today's coveted marketers Tim Leberecht postulated that, because of the growing efficiency of technology, we might be entering a new age of disenchantment. If this is true, then a poetic approach to our businesses might be a prerequisite to its success if not our only edge over the perfection of machines. 

Maybe you can start with your brand’s goals. What if you could be more poetic in defining what success means for your business? 

Normally, we have a very objective and measurable way of defining our goals. We say, “I want to hit this ROI in x months” or “I want to achieve a total of x signups after the launch.” While this is IMPORTANT, I would argue we also need a poetic idea of what success means to us. Something that doesn’t scale. Something that moves us in a more sentimental way. 


There is a conference network called MLove that hosts its main annual event in an old, remote run-down castle near Berlin. The idea is to create a fusion of Burning Man and Ted Talk. There are artistic installations, performances, social games, and intimate dinners to inspire fellow attendees to bond and stay connected even after the event as opposed to merely networking and exchanging calling cards. “My notion of success,” the founder of MLove said, “is to make (business) people’s eyes glow.” 

I asked my dad who founded a hospital in Tabaco City what his sentimental notion of success for Amando Cope Hospital is. He said, “I just want every patient to feel they are cared for like our own family member.”

If you ask me what gets me sentimental about my work, I would say it’s the letters and emails from my readers telling me The Mad Muse has helped them rekindle their long lost fire to create and realize that their art is not without purpose. My idea of success: one less lonely and frustrated creator — one museletter at a time.

Unlike an objective or a vision statement, A sentimental SUCCESS STATEMENT is a little less concrete and is hardly grandiose. It is more of a symbolic, poignant, and process-centered version of your goal. This way, it will be easier for you to visualize and create experiences that will inspire your desired result.


A dance teacher venturing in her first workshop for adults might tell herself, “I want to deliver an excellent dance class.” Depending on her intent, wouldn’t it be better if she says something more descriptive like, “Every person who joins the workshop will walk away knowing that dancing is a wonderful retreat — a form of escape without actually going away.”?

Having this kind of sentimentality and imagery might help her deliver a more immersive, more sublime, and thusly more retentive and life-enhancing learning experience for her students.

Here are 3 tips to help you craft your own Sentimental Success Statement:

1. Pay attention to unquantifiable things. Earlier this month, I started a list in my journal called “things that don’t scale.” Here are some things I have written so far:

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Learn to appreciate what is immeasurable. Seek out the nuances that make the human experience more meaningful, and try to identify what those things are in your own enterprise. What unquantifiable experience is your brand offering? 

2. Use analogies and metaphors. A sentiment can at times be difficult to grasp that’s why we use imageries to express our point in a more lucid way.

Analogies and metaphors try to capture a key attribute of one thing or idea by relating it to something else. It is often used in poetry to attain clearness, charm, and distinction. A good analogy can even inspire action.

The use of analogy and metaphor can be perceived in our earlier examples, particularly in my dad’s statement:

“I want every patient to feel they are cared for like our own family member.”

… And in our fictitious dance instructor’s case:

“Every person who joins the workshop will walk away knowing that dancing is a wonderful retreat — a form of escape without actually going away.”


3. Embrace ambiguity. To be human is to live a mystery. To close our business doors on our impulses and uncertainties would mean to close our doors on what ultimately makes our enterprises more human. By making our goals a little less definite and a little more open to interpretation, change, and surprise, we can be able to create a brand experience where genuine and meaningful connections thrive. 


Over to you! What would you say is your sentimental idea of success? I understand that this is a totally unconventional way of looking at business goals but I think it’s an approach that can help us create significant results.

Stay sentient,