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What-is-your-whyAt a conference celebrating the creation and growth of new businesses, you expect to hear a lot about profits and building the bottom line. But money only motivates us so far.

Twice already at Maine Startup and Create Week, I heard this sentiment:

Make it about more than just money.

I heard it first from Ezra Fishman, head of marketing at Wistia in our session on Crafting Your Message. He talked about the importance of having a defined, shared vision for your brand. He explained that after a while, making money at your job only goes so far, and to inspire employees and lead everyone in the same direction, a clear vision that everyone can articulate and relate to will help you create a brand that is loved both externally and internally.

Donato Tramuto, the keynote speaker, echoed this sentiment with even more heart. He challenged everyone to answer the question:

What is your why?

This is a question branding experts like myself want every client to answer. If the only reason that your product, service or organization exists is to make money for you, why should anyone care about your brand?

If you haven’t watched it before, I suggest you view: Simon Sinek’s TED talk, “Start with Why.” He articulates why answering this question is so critical to brand success.

Your “why” can be small, but must be personal

Donato’s talk was filled with heart-wrenching stories of his personal life and how they shaped his goals for himself and his businesses. Quick recap: Donato experienced challenges and personal loss in his life, that luckily, many of us never face. Hence, it’s easy to walk away feeling like there is no way you’ll ever live up to Mr Tramuto’s greatness because you don’t have as many obstacles to overcome.

That’s OK. You probably don’t have a disability, or you may not have experienced the death of many loved ones, or your work doesn’t save lives. My life, in comparison, seems easy and my work certainly has not saved any lives.

Yet, you can still have a “why” story that will not only help you maintain focus and energy to grow your business, it will also attract prospects to your brand.

Here is my “why”

As a bright and driven girl, I always did well in school. Yet, there was one thing I could never do: memorize anything longer than a word or two. I still can’t memorize song lyrics or remember a phone number. For the most part, this hasn’t hindered me, but in high school I was interested in being in a play and for the life of me, could not memorize the lines.

However, I always understood things very quickly and could comprehend, distill and translate things that I heard. I just couldn’t repeat them back verbatim. After some testing I was labeled as “aural/oral” dyslexic. This means when I hear something it gets jumbled around and I cannot speak it or write it back exactly.

But, it seems this has become an advantage for me. I have an affinity for taking very complicated information and being able to distill that back in the form of a succinct message, a chart that visually summarizes key data or a graphic that explains something faster than a multi-page document. This is why I can help so many organizations with complex and specialized products: I listen, sort it out and package it up in a clear way for their audience.

Don’t be afraid to tell others your story and make it personal. What’s your why?

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