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Episode #74

Holstee Manifesto: The History of the One Motivational Poster that Pervades Startup Culture

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Holstee Manifesto motivates a bewildering number of startups and tech companies—Google, AirBnb, Threadless, Zappos, TED and more all hang the poster on their walls. This week's New Tech City podcast tells the story of how a list of simple, earnest, some might say naive, mantras meant to guide three young men through their 20s, became a must-have for all manner of companies in the tech industry. You'll hear how the friendly guys behind Holstee started out with a plan to innovate on the standard T-shirt, but made an unexpected pivot toward inspirational wall hangings when their own list of mottos went viral on the internet. "Our focus now is creating art that encourages mindful living," says co-founder Michael Radparvar. To hear more about Holstee's unlikely journey and what the popularity of the Holstee Manifesto says about the tech sector, click on the audio or subscribe to the New Tech City podcast on iTunes.

And if you have this poster up in your office, let us know why you chose these words to motivate you? Or if you don't buy into this manifesto, why not? As you'll hear the audio, we don't expect everyone to eat this up, but many many people have. 

Special thanks to all the staff of WNYC lending their voices to the audio incarnation of Holstee Manifesto poster at the end of the podcast.

    Music Playlist
  1. Busan
    Composer: Jack Ventimiglia, BMI
  2. Conveyor
    Composer: Jack Ventimiglia, BMI
  3. Daybird
  4. Cellar
    Composer: Jack Ventimiglia, BMI

Comments [11]

Yeah, I guess the world would be a better place if we could just quit our jobs and do what we love. Mainly because that would mean we all had wealthy parents and didn't actually have to concern ourselves with money.

This is just the next stage in the evolution of Trustafarianism.

Mar. 19 2014 05:29 PM
Becky from Philadelphia

This manifesto is really upsetting to me because it is so well-meaning, but so full of unaware privilege. It's troublingly self-centered and does not account for the individual having responsibilities to others. It would be one thing if it were written as "I will seek to..." statements, and the authors were more clearly writing to spur themselves on. But the fact that it's written in the imperative seems quite insulting to people who don't have the economic/opportunity latitude to travel often or up and quit their job. It seems like the person who fails to live by these maxims is indicted for having a life that is less-than. Also, the love of your life is "waiting for you"? That seems to highlight the self-centered perspective in which other people's lives are implicitly there to be part of *your* story. I would rather say that you'll encounter the love of your life on the path of doing what you love.

Feb. 22 2014 12:39 PM
sandy kraehling from manhattan

didnt the dalai llama say this before??

Feb. 21 2014 12:39 AM
DickeyFuller from DC

Every generation has their own wall poster / creed / words to live by that they hang in their apartment / office when they're young and broke.

Ours was similar to theirs. Something about the universe . . . .

Feb. 20 2014 11:49 PM
Andy from Queens

Great segment. I couldn't put my finger on it initially but it reminded me of Baz Luhrmann Sunscreen song. Does the Holstee also come in song form? They have the lyrics now all they need is a beat.

Feb. 20 2014 09:23 PM
matt from brooklyn, ny

Seems like these guys had the awareness to recognize that their manifesto, cliched though it may be, was generating interest virally and could be monetized. More power to them. Besides, I kinda like reading it.

Feb. 19 2014 10:55 PM
simmy from NYC

I don't mind the manifesto. I even like some of the sentiments but I can't help but be reminded of an old Nike advertisement that started "Too often we are scared..." that I had hanging on my wall for years and it makes me feel like this is an unoriginal rip off. Even the varying fonts were in the same style. But the Nike advertisement was better.

Feb. 19 2014 05:27 PM
Bonnie from New York

This manifesto is a little corny to me, even as a twenty something who is living in the age of hyperbolically cheery and "inspiring" UpWorthy and Buzzfeed viral posts.

The manifesto I have taped on my office wall is one I saw online, and begins with, "Believe in your f-ing self. Stay up all f-ing night. Work outside of your f-ing habits. Know when to f-ing speak up," and so on. Despite its vulgarity, I find it a lot more realistic and less cheesily idealistic than the Holstee Manifesto.

Feb. 19 2014 02:25 PM
kspring from Ann Arbor, MI

I found the Holstee Manifesto when I was contemplating leaving a job as a tenured professor to return to grad school for digital skills and work in public radio. Since I'm an atheist and just kind of believe what happens happens, this manifesto was a nice, recurring kick in the pants.

Feb. 19 2014 01:20 PM
janet from NYC

the collection of 1-liners is corny to be sure. like a collage of all the prettiest images ever. on buzzfeed. surrounded by a bunch of fuzzy kittens. nonetheless, one line spoke to me: IF YOU DON'T LIKE SOMETHING, CHANGE IT. words to live by.

Feb. 19 2014 01:17 PM
Tony from Brooklyn

I do not buy into the manifesto. Three privileged kids typing up a bunch of cliches -- "Getting Lost Will Help You Find Yourself"? -- is hardly sound life advice. It's more of a collection of old bumper stickers than a guide on how to live life. "Life is Short"? Seriously?

Then again, if we all had parents who funded us in our attempt to open an Etsy clone, I would wholeheartedly buy into this. But the majority of us don't have our parents paying our rent and giving us seed money to start up a fairly ubiquitous hipster venture.

Feb. 19 2014 11:53 AM

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