What's Your "Why"?
Updated: Jun 15, 2018
Everyone needs a purpose. Do you know yours? While this may sound like the opening of a philosophical discussion, it's not. In Simon Sinek's TedTalk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action he asks, "What's your purpose? What's your call? What are your beliefs?" He discusses how it's important to know your "why" or the purpose of your business.
Why is Your "Why" Important?
The market is saturated with companies providing similar services. It can be difficult for your business to stand out from all the competitors. Your "why" gives your organization purpose. The "why" gives value to your product. Without it, our actions and business lack meaning. Simon Sinek states in his book, Start With Why, "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it."
Naturally when a business promotes themselves, they focus on their products and what they do. They market their services, their credentials, their experience. However, because the focus is often on "what" they do rather than "why" they do it, the business isn't connecting at a deeper level with their audience. There's an additional layer of value and connection that businesses can make with their target audience by knowing and communicating their "why".
“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. " – Simon Sinek
Customers today are more savvy. They want to buy more from you than just your products. Customers want to know the products and services they are purchasing align with what they believe in. Customers are often looking for a connection with who they do business with.
Your "why" is your story. That story communicates a greater purpose that transcends a monetary transaction. The purpose of your business shouldn't be to make money or attract more customers. Sinek says in his TedTalk, "Profit isn't a purpose, it's a result. To have purpose means the things we do are of real value to others.”
Sinek's words transformed how I saw things. It turned my thinking around. Rather than making profit the purpose of my business, I should let that be the result. I realized I should focus on the value of my services to my customers and "why" I am doing what I am doing. By pivoting my focus to how my gifts and passions can influence and help others, my "why" comes to the forefront. This thinking doesn't seem natural in a world where we are taught that money is power and profit is king. Don't get me wrong. I have to feed the family and pay the bills like everyone else. Money is important, but it shouldn't be the purpose of what we do. Once I discovered my "why", I was able to clearly understand how to move forward with my business and communicate my "why" with my customers.
As a young child I remember my mom as a creative---always happy, painting, dancing, singing, and making music. We would often make art and music together—She taught me how to paint and draw. I recall those moments with happiness and joy. However, as I grew older, she began displaying symptoms of the mental disorder, paranoid schizophrenia. Home life growing up, especially in my middle and high school years, was chaotic and confusing. Mom developed severe mood swings and paranoid delusions. She screamed at the walls or sometimes would just stare silently at them for hours. She started to isolate herself from friends, neighbors, even her own family. The disease showed no mercy, and slowly, it took over my brilliant and creative mother's mind. Gradually, she stopped doing the very things that brought her, my brother and father joy. She became a person my family barely recognized... delusional, fearful, haunted by her own thoughts and trapped in her own mind, she took her own life at the age of 71.
Years later, when I started my graphic design business, I had trouble finding the right name. I wanted something unique but with meaning. Naturally, I thought of my mom. While her life had a tragic end, I couldn't help but think of the positive impact she had on me earlier in my life. I didn't want her mental illness to solely define her, or define my youth. So I named my business after my mom because in all reality, she still brought beauty, creativity, and joy to my life. The creative gifts I have in me today are a testament and tribute to her. Her name was Tu Lan—a beautiful flower in Chinese. Beauty springs from adversity, does it not?
The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all. — Emperor of China, Mulan
I believe the gift of design she gave me has the power to influence behavior. I want the gifts she left to me to matter, have meaning and make a difference. My passion is to create images that communicate and inspire audiences to action. By partnering with companies and organizations, I can help grow businesses and communicate their unique messages and their "whys" through design. I can help others become successful in their endeavors. This is my "why".
Discovering Your "Why"
So how do you find your "why"? Ask yourself the following questions. What are your passions? What are you gifted at? Why do you do what you do?
Once you discover your "why", and your story, it will transform how you see your business and your customers. You will see your services and products as having a value that can serve others. You will notice the way you communicate your message changes. From "what" you do, to "why" you do it. Knowing your "why" will allow you to connect with your target audience in ways that are relevant, authentic and of value to others.
Do you need help with communicating your "why" through branding or design? Let's chat!