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Finding My Why

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Until recently, I’d only discussed with people how I started my business instead of why. I’ve clocked hundreds of hours at networking events, coffee meetings, and lunches describing the steps I took to get started:
  • I was at a crossroads in my career and entering my middle-age years
  • I felt unfulfilled working for employers, and I wanted the autonomy of being my own boss
  • Entrepreneurship? I’d never given myself permission to try it, and the time felt right
  • I wanted to write and create content marketing solutions for my own clients 
  • I’d look back and regret not pursuing the path of most resistance 
Using these reasons, I crafted a narrative that I felt told my story well. The problem is that it wasn’t genuine because I wasn’t communicating my why.

What Triggered Me
To be fair to myself, having a why wasn’t in my consciousness. Though my business was growing, a cog was missing, and I couldn’t identify it. 
Then Simon Sinek happened. 
For those of you who don’t know Simon Sinek (full disclosure: I was living under the same rock as you and didn’t know who he was either), he is a leadership expert, best-selling author, Ted-Talker, and Edward Snowden doppelganger.
I watched an excerpt of his Ted Talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” at a recent networking breakfast where he discusses how everything emanates from discovering your why. He uses the example of Apple:
Here's how Apple actually communicates. "Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?" Totally different, right? You're ready to buy a computer from me. I just reversed the order of the information. What it proves to us is that people don't buy what you do; people buy why you do it. 
Just like that, I discovered what was missing, and I understood the significance of finding my why. The problem was that I tried but couldn’t identify it. I was stuck in the why wilderness. 
My Eureka Moment
I flailed into my next session with my business coach and told her, “I have a why problem!” Applying Six Sigma’s The 5 Whys technique and her Jedi coaching powers, we dug deep. At first, I could only repeat my “how” greatest hits, but we kept drilling down. 
“David,” she said. “Why do you do what you do?”
Without thinking, I blurted, “When I read poor or average writing, I feel compelled to make it better. It could be a wine label, an ad in a magazine, a blog post, or an article. I have a Pavlovian response to run to it and fix it. When I listen to my clients and read their existing content, I get so excited to have the opportunity to help them find their voice, tell their story, and connect with their audience in ways they never could have imagined.”
Hello, Why. I haven’t heard so much about you, but I’m glad we’re finally meeting. 
How It’s Helping My Business 
I love learning about people and their businesses, which is why I ask a lot of questions at meetings. Seek to understand before being understood. When it’s time for me to talk, I lead with my why before going into greater detail about my services. I reverse the order of the information, as Simon Sinek says. When people hear my passion and honesty it resonates, and they understand that I can improve and refine their content, messaging, and branding to create stronger connections with their audiences.

Find Your Why
You have a why. Like mine, it may be lying dormant and require some help and inspiration to erupt. Remember: people don't buy what you do; people buy why you do it. Now go out and find it.


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