Your Life in One Sentence

A year or so ago one of the professors at the School of Multimedia Communications challenged his students to write a six-word memoir of themselves.

I absolutely loved the words the kids turned in.

Hemingway did this once. There are several sites devoted to the art, Smith magazine included.

I find it’s an amazing way to sense someone’s state of their world. Some reference parents and childhood, others what they had for lunch. Some lament on love found or lost, some are dark and brooding, others shout sunny optimism.

I spent some time this morning thinking about what mine would be.


It’s part criticism, part accomplishment, and partly hope for better things. I think that sums it up nicely for now.

Let’s expand on that.

My friend Austin forwarded me a link yesterday I wanted to share with you. It’s the One Sentence of your Life.

What would your sentence be?

Author Justine Musk ( If the name feels familiar, it is- she’s the former wife of Tesla founder Elon Musk) says “It’s not a slogan or a mission statement. It’s about defining the ideas that you stand for and the impact that you have. It’s about what you want to leave behind in your wake. Your legacy.”


I challenge my clients to come up with a defining paragraph that they can use in job interviews, or even in social situations. The brief paragraph is the answer to the universal question –  “Tell me about yourself.”

Most people buckle when this question is posed. They aren’t sure whether to talk about their love of Golden Retrievers, or craft beer, or just a current job status.

My advice is to sum up in a brief paragraph what you’re all about. For job interviews, it’s an honest assessment of your competencies and qualifications. It’s a clearly focused statement about what you do, and who you are. I challenge clients to memorize this paragraph, and deliver it with confidence and a smile – walking that fine line between sounding rehearsed and sounding authentic.

The first question we are almost always asked in the interview is “Tell me about yourself”.

We need to be ready to answer.

So. What can you say about yourself in one sentence?

That will get you inspired to create the paragraph you’ll want to share with the world.

Share yours below. I’d love to hear about…you.

John Scott is the National Online Learning Coordinator and a media history instructor at the School of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University, San Francisco. He also counsels clients and groups on the art of reinvention.

His debut book Broken Glass and Barbed Wire will be released soon.

Follow John on Twitter @johnscottsf.

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