When Is The Best Time To Start My Memoir?

By New York Times Bestselling Author Michael Levin

The best time to have started your memoir is a year ago because if you had, you’d be holding it in your hands by now instead of reading this!

There’s a wonderful Chinese expression—the best time to plant a tree is 25 years ago. The second best time is right now.

And the same thing is true with memoirs—the second best time to get yours started really is right now. Memoirs are incredibly powerful—they capture the essence of your career and what you learned along the way. They communicate the culture of your business or enterprise to new hires, prospects, your entire team, investors, legislators, the community around you, and any other stakeholders in your business.

The biggest obstacle most people have to writing a memoir is that they think that it represents the end of their career. There’s a sense of finality to it, as if death is approaching. So it’s time to get everything written down.

I prefer to think of a memoir of an “interim report”—it reflects what you know as of this moment. As you learn more, you will either revise the memoir and put out a second edition, or you’ll simply write a brand new book.

But don’t let the idea that writing a memoir is an invitation to the Grim Reaper get in the way!

There are many reasons for doing memoirs. On a personal level, my clients report that it’s incredibly satisfying to capture in one place, with thoroughness and clarity, the journey they undertook and the success they have reaped. They are very happy that their children or grandchildren can finally understand how they succeeded in life. Sometimes, it’s a real lesson to later generations to realize that Grandma or Grandpa wasn’t born with a proverbial silver spoon in his or her mouth!

However, you don’t have to be old, retired, or facing retirement to write a memoir. People are most interested in people, not ideas, not statistics, and not “case studies.” In other words, your prospects are primarily interested in you—you as a person, not you as a resume, CD, or LinkedIn profile.

In today’s world, people crave connection. The irony is that we have all these incredible technological tools for connecting with one another, but the reality is that most of us are more isolated than ever. We hide behind our laptops, iPads, and cell phones. A New York Times article stated that the least-used app on mobile phones… is a phone!

In other words, gone is the era when people knew each other well and worked together face-to-face the majority of the time. So in an era of truncated communication—text, email, and brief phone calls or meetings—there is nothing like a memoir to establish a sense of your humanity in the mind of the reader.


Ultimately, people don’t choose professionals, investment firms, attorneys, doctors, or other service providers based on their resume or where they went to school. Instead, we make these choices based on a feeling that we have about the person. Typically, the better we know someone, the more comfortable we feel with him or her.

That’s why a memoir is the ultimate business marketing tool. It puts your humanity front and center. Your competitors have photos of themselves with a forced smile at a conference table. But here you are, in page after glorious page, explaining who you are, what your values are, what matters to you, and how you succeed. Quite frankly, nothing could be more intriguing or exciting to a reader.

The Internet is another reason for doing a memoir and getting it going now. The Internet has given buyers more choices than at any point in human history. It used to be that we were limited in our choices to brick and mortar companies or firms that were within a short driving distance. Today, however, buyers can choose from providers of goods and services halfway around the block or halfway around the planet. The effect of this explosion of choice is to commoditize pretty much everyone. The Internet is, in many ways, the great equalizer—big firms and small firms all pretty much look the same online. Websites all tend to have the same bells and whistles in any given vertical. So how are you going to stand out?

In an era where technology dominates, the most valuable possession you have from a marketing standpoint is your own humanity. Let people get to know you, and by knowing you, they will trust you. And when they trust you, they will hire you, and then they will stay with you.

If you can get that from any other marketing tool other than a memoir, I’d like to hear about it. I’ve been in the trenches for decades, helping individuals, small firms, and large enterprises define themselves and describe themselves to their marketplaces in the most robust manner possible—through books.

Isn’t it about time that you had yours?