Do you know and embody your ‘WHY’?
- why does your organization exist?
- why do you get out of bed in the morning?
- why should anyone care about your organization?
- why does your work matter?
Let’s unpack this term. One part of the “WHY” is a core belief, or a “stand” that commits us to something greater than ourselves. Here’s an example of ours:
“(we believe) building trust in the marketplace starts with knowing what you stand for”
This is not a true or false statement. This is a belief that Soulful Brand uses to focus our decision-making when developing our services, products, partnerships, and communications. The stand above is a present-day commitment informed by our “experience” (i.e. the past-tense part of our WHY known as our Story)…
The future part of our WHY, we call our “vision”—i.e. the possibility we see for the community we’re serving (which is different than being inspired by our own organization’s growth). One of our visions is:
“a world where entrepreneurs, and organizations, stay connected to who they are in the process of branding and marketing”
You can imagine how this vision keeps us in line with our own marketing and invites people to engage with us who want the same future.
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Q: Aside from focusing our daily and long-term decisions why else do we need to know our ‘WHY’?
Our clients tell us that being in touch with their WHY has allowed them to navigate the bumpy road of business. One founder of a tech startup remarked, “Anytime I feel doubt, I come back to why I’m really doing this and I find my confidence again.” And another said, “even if we’re changing directions, knowing our why helps me stay committed and confident.” In other words, this is about resilience.
Q: How does knowing our WHY transform marketing and sales conversations?
To answer that question, here’s a stand from Simon Sinek that we strongly resonate with:
“people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it”
In the video below, Sinek elaborates on this: “the goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”
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Before we get to the video, I want to share a bit about the challenges we’ve faced in simply expressing our WHY once we uncovered it…
I can recall earlier days when Ryan (my business partner) and I could read the words of our WHY, but something was still out of alignment for us. We wanted to be able to share what we stood for in public and not be shy about it. To actually enjoy saying what we believe out loud! To do this authentically, Ryan and I have had to face three major fears that were getting in the way…
1. What if we are too pushy?
With our business, we had this unconscious idea that we’ve got to “convince” others to buy from us. And until we became aware of this, we noticed that we could easily get pushy and overbearing, even though our values are so far from behaving that way with others. This was not a conscious choice. It was an example of how we were internally out of alignment.
By realizing a part of us believed “convincing” was the only way to enroll people, we began a practice of catching ourselves when we defaulted that way. These days, we can always get ourselves back on track and relating more authentically by reconnecting with or sharing an aspect of our WHY.
BTW, I’ve just done that in this article: here I am making the case for the WHY and I started to feel my “convincing” meter going off. To balance that a bit, I decided to reconnect to another stand of ours: “by sharing ourselves and our experience, we trust others to decide for themselves.” This led me into some more personal territory.
2. What if we get rejected?
Early on, while sharing our WHY in our messaging, we had a fear of people saying “no” to working with us. For example, we know many people won’t resonate with some of our stands, like this one:
“when building business relationships, creating an authentic connection is paramount”
Some might say it’s too “new-agey”, others might say it’s not important, etc.
But rather than fear we’re being too risky with a statement not everyone can get behind, we see this as being honest with ourselves and resonating with the best-fitting people for us. Rather than playing it safe and trying to appeal to everyone, we’re creating the conditions for the right people to feel a deep connection with our WHY and, therefore, with us. Through this approach, we’ve established some truly meaningful relationships with clients, partners, and team members.
In the video below, Simon Sinek explains the neuroscience behind relationships. They’re not built upon nor strengthened by our logical brain—it’s all about our emotional brain (the part responsible for decision-making). Your WHY, if uncovered and shared honestly, will come from an emotional place. That’s why it serves you to lead with what you care about when building relationships in the marketplace.
3. What if we have to say “no”?
On the other side of rejection is the fear of being the ones to say “no” to a business relationship. For example, when a client fit just isn’t there I acknowledge letting business go isn’t easy, especially whenever we felt urgency about making money. But if we’re not aligned in the way we see things, at some point that relationship will break down. We’ve decided that it’s better for us to part ways early on than wait for the inevitable.
By the way, the easiest way to tell if you and your prospect are a good fit together is (can you guess?) by looking through the lens of your WHY to see if you’re on the same page or not. Are you guided by the same principles? Do you have a similar vision for the future? Yes or no. Super simple.
One more “by the way”—people who aren’t a good fit for your business are not “less than” in any way. Not being a good fit just means that if you decide to work together, you’ll be working from different motivations that are likely to clash if some clear alignment of purpose has not been explicitly established.
Through our business, Ryan and I have learned that in decision-making moments (such as considering a new partnership, redefining our business model, or setting a new tone for our marketing communications) once we’ve been honest with ourselves and tapped into our WHY, we’ve not only made those decisions very clear and easy, we’ve further solidified the ground we stand on while deepening a sense of meaning and trust with ourselves and others.
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Check out Simon Sinek’s video
Watch the video below, as Sinek beautifully articulates the value of understanding your WHY based on neurological wiring. As you will see, knowing what inspires and compels you improves your ability to authentically engage the best-fitting audience. As you will hear, this kind of self-awareness has created innovative and committed leaders like Steve Jobs, the Wright Brothers and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
After you watch the video, learn more about the avenues that we use to explore your WHY (as well as other elements) in our free ebook, “4 Key Elements to a Soulful Brand”…4 Key Elements >>