Understanding Your “Why”

I finally got around to watching Simon Sinek’s TED talk on how great companies understand and embrace their “why,” which is the reason they do what they do. And yes, I realize I was a bit late to the party since five million people have already seen this video, but now I understand what all the buzz is about.

When it comes to marketing a book or a product or a service, most of us look at the basic mechanics. We explain what it is and how it works, but too often we fail to explain why it’s so great. This got me thinking about my own “why” and my mission.

Here’s a loose brainstorm from my notebook:

I want to…

  • Help people
  • Learn something new daily
  • Teach
  • Empower and encourage
  • Provide tools
  • Bring goodness to the world
  • Find solutions to problems
  • Spread happiness
  • Work with people who want to make a difference
  • Run my business and my life with authenticity and integrity

I started thinking about the clients we’ve worked with, and the ones we’ve turned away. Yes, we turn away clients. I remember one in particular who wanted to publish a book that was filled with vitriolic dialogue and character assassinations of real people. The author felt completely justified in his opinions, which is his right, but in my gut I didn’t feel good about spreading those opinions into the world. I believe we create our own karma and I wanted no part of that.

On the other hand, in recent years we’ve worked with authors who care about making a difference in the world—and these are the ones who bring me the biggest charge. We’ve worked with doctors with prescriptions for raising healthier children, memoirists who’ve battled illnesses, storytellers who want to spread laughter, and people passionate about leadership. We’ve produced books on healthy living, how to die peacefully, methods for building a stronger business, and how to triumph over unimaginable circumstances. These brilliant people make it fun for me to come to work every day because they want to inspire others.

Then I realized that these qualities meet all the criteria on my above list.Understanding Your “Why”

So this is my “why” for my business, which I have yet to boil down into one simple statement (and I’m not sure I need to). It’s no different than how I feel about my own career as an author. I want to write books that help people and make a difference.

So after reading this, consider your own “why.” What do you really, really, really care about? And if you were crystal clear about this and began sharing that message with your potential readers and clients, how do you think they would react? Also ask yourself how your life currently aligns with your “why,” and if it’s out of alignment, how can you correct your course?

This is powerful stuff.



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