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What Marcel Proust Can Teach Your Business

Earlier this month, we talked about positioning Article Group as a product marketing agency. 

TL; DR: It’s not a straightforward process: We knew that we needed to shift, and found the pandemic economy gave us breathing room to decide which direction we needed to go. Along the way, we asked ourselves a lot of tough questions, and had faith in our answers, following them to the other side. And…it worked! So, we got to thinking: 

What if there was an actual series of questions that businesses could ask themselves to kickstart repositioning?

Based on our own journey, we had a bunch of brainstorms to construct these questions. We thought of some good ones; we thought of some really dark ones. And as we were weeding through the winners, our method of inquiry started to resemble the series of self-reflective questions made famous by  navel-gazer extraordinaire Marcel Proust. (If you read Vanity Fair, you’re probably familiar.)

Proust holds the official record for the longest novel of all time. And yet he participated in a practice that boiled down his core principles to 35 questions. Take this quiz, Proust suggests, and the other 1.266-odd million words become a nice-to-have.

What would Marcel Proust do, we thought, if he were to structure his questionnaire for modern businesses purposes?

Behold: the Proust Questionnaire for Business.

We can’t guarantee that it will magically fix all of your strategic goals. So why do it? Because finding focus takes time, and carving out time is the first step. It will probably be a fun exercise, nonetheless, and help you jumpstart the process.

 >> Article Group
Article Group // Our essays and such

What We’re Working On

Breaking down the boundaries between sales and marketing. There are so many interesting organizational barriers that get in the way of amazing work. Never underestimate how difficult it is to get groups with different metrics to align for the greater good of the project.

What We’re Into/Up To

This was Joanna’s book reco for Breath by James Nestor: “Every living breathing human should read this.” Most of us have, and we’re all breathing better for it. 👃 ~ Robert is back to cooking to cook, instead of cooking to eat. ~ Liz is leaning hard into fall. During a recent, rare three-day weekend, she made pumpkin maple muffins, carne asada chili, hiked a bunch, and crunched all of the leaves. In her own words: “It was wonderful.”

Further Reading

Curious about the origins of the Proust questionnaire? Here’s where to start:

  • Proust didn’t write the original questionnaire for which he’s now famous — he just answered it.
  • How does the Victorian equivalent of a teenage boy’s yearbook entry turn into the ultimate blueprint for interviewing? The New Yorker digs deep

  • As it happens, Oprah and Proust are cut from the same cloth: they both want you to live your best life.
Article is a 100% organic, free-range, desktop-to-inbox newsletter devoted to helping you navigate uncertainty, seek the most interesting challenges, and make better creative decisions in marketing and beyond. We deliver Sundays at 6pm ET twice monthly. Article is published by Article Group, a delightful creative agency of talented problem-solvers. We're more fox than hedgehog. We are for hire.
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Article Group · 222 Livingston · Floor 2 · Brooklyn, NY 11201 · USA