The Seductive Charm of Proposal Writing

Ah, I see I got your eye! Excellent! 

The other day I came across this interesting quote by the famous writer Idries Shah: 

“Knowledge is not gained; it is there all the time. It is the “veils” which have to be dissolved in the mind.” 

Something clicked. I’ve always felt that proposal writers are hard on themselves. They don’t adequately appreciate that they have extraordinary perspectives that many others lack. Proposal writers aren’t just “writers” – they are loaded with information on how things work and how to get things done. If you only knew it, you would understand that a career in proposal writing, even if for a short term, can actually build enough firepower within you to take you places. For that, you need to take off those self-created veils and take a look at what someone at the senior-most levels of leadership in every organization does.  

So here are a few reasons why you ought to be seduced by proposal writing as an important milestone in your career! 

  • Your writing skills get polished. This is the most obvious one, of course. Over time, you learn the art of writing tightly and with high impact, conveying key messages in the shortest and most elegant manner possible. That sounds suspiciously like a trait a senior leader ought to possess
  • You know where to get information from within the organization. Whether it’s an SME or someone from Finance or Legal or Sales, you build crucial networks that make you effective in your job. Believe it or not, networking and knowing how to extract information is a very powerful strength. And guess what? A leader needs to have this strength too!
  • You know what the industry looks like and how it’s evolving. As you go through RFP after RFP after RFP, you pick up trends. You pick up the language and certain specific contexts. You learn to infer; you learn to connect the dots, you know how to read between the lines. You also know how to ask questions. Surprise! People at the highest levels also do that!
  • You develop an understanding of pricing, even if you are not directly involved. Your gut feel gets better and better since you know the nature of the problem, the customer, and the competitors. This appreciation for finance is a crucial requirement in a leader. 
  • You know how to size up competitors and how to do battle. Proposal writers need to know how their writing stacks up against a competitive proposal. The game of chess is constantly being played. Similarly, a CXO always knows who the competitors are and what to do. 
  • You develop a 360-degree perspective. As an extension of all these skills, you are effectively on a lighthouse, elevated above the ground level, with a clear, commanding view of the landscape and this helps you approach a situation correctly. 

When you take a look at the list above – and it’s not a complete list – you can see that this is good stuff! An experience as a proposal writer, consciously planned, can make you a highly flexible in-demand professional, ready to take on practically any responsibility. 

Proposal Writing is seducing you, my friend. Did you know it? 


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  1. Ivoire Lloyd, CF APMP

    This article hit the nail on the head!