Understand Your WHY as You Tell Your Story

Over the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time interviewing people for various video projects.  I’ve found there is often great apprehension and fear leading up to the interview.  It’s been said, “Public speaking is the #1 fear in America.”  I don’t have stats on it, but I’m guessing speaking in front of a camera would come in a close second.

Our good friend Dave Berggren (KARE 11) and I had the honor of interviewing Tony Dungy (Super Bowl Winning NFL Coach) in April, 2015. Tony exemplifies someone who is in touch with their WHY! He left coaching in 2009 and now speaks all over the world, calling out men to live an "uncommon" life. He was one of the most inspiring people I've ever met.

When it comes to being in front of a camera, clearly some people are more comfortable than others, but it often it takes 5-8 minutes for interviewees to relax and to begin speaking as though they were conversing with a friend.  It’s then that I can begin to see what’s in their heart.  I discover what makes them tick.  I can capture their story.  I understand what their passion is, and it’s then that their story begins to have an impact on me.  And when recorded, it can have a profound impact on others as well. I believe people perform their best and have their greatest impact at home, at work, at church, at life, etc. when they believe that WHAT they do reflects WHY they do it.  They are most impactful when they operate out of their passions and when what they do means more to them than the money they earn by doing it. I was recently interviewing a gentleman from Tornier, a global, publicly-traded medical device company based in Minneapolis, MN.  The company builds orthopedic implants and is a leader in innovation in their industry.  I asked this gentleman WHY he chose to work for this company, understanding that at his level, he could be an impactful and successful leader at a host of companies around the world.  His response gave me great insight into WHY the company does what it does and ultimately WHY they’ve produced double-digit growth numbers for four consecutive quarters. He said:  “Tornier is a sexy business.  We build products, that when used in the hands of a skillful surgeon, give the patient/the end user the ability to raise their hand again, play a sport again, to live life again free of pain…that by using the Tornier product, have found their lives better…   Someday people will look back and say ‘wow’, what they did is just fantastic.” If only we all could carve into WHY we do what we do, and express it in the way we tell stories about our businesses.  If we could unlock our passion and our reason for doing what we do, we will be more effective in telling our story, and my belief is that more people will be excited to ENGAGE with us, with our companies and with our product or service. Here’s a few steps to take in the coming months to help unlock your passion and tell better stories about WHY you do WHAT you do: Take time to think - It’s so tempting as business owners to spend too much time working IN our businesses that we forget to work ON them.  Step away from your phone, your computer, and from other distractions for some time each day/week/month/year to think and to process WHY you do what you do.  What difference are you making today?  What difference do you feel called to make tomorrow?  Do you need to change directions to align closer to YOUR WHY? Speak to those who’ve been there before - Without a doubt, I would not be where I am without having been influenced by other leaders in my life, people like my dad and father-in-law that have both run successful businesses.  A retired friend who ran a large marketing and advertising firm for years was influential in helping me build out my business plan.  Current business colleagues who are “in the trenches” with me today hold me accountable, ask great questions and spur me along on a daily basis. Read - You could call me “captain slow” when it comes to reading.  I’ve heard it said for years, “If you want to be a leader, you’ve got to be a reader”.  I blew it off way too long and I can’t tell you how important the books I’m reading now are influencing the direction of my business.  They encourage me to keep pushing myself to learn and improve.  Stay tuned to this blog for ongoing book reports and links to resources we’ve found especially helpful.  Also, who says you have to read the traditional way?  I have “read” 5 books this year using Audible!  I find my daily run/exercise is more enjoyable when I have something to listen to.  Consider switching off the radio or music and turning that time into your own personal university time. Share what you’ve learned - Jesus changed the world in the 3 years of his public ministry by influencing 12 men.  Tell people in your life what you’ve learned by taking these steps.  Individuals in the companies we serve have recommended our services to other departments and divisions, not just because the product is good, but because we’ve added value beyond the assigned project.  Largely this added value has come from the books we are reading, the people we are learning from and from the experiences we have. I believe people do business with people who they like, but also with people who provide the most value.  Value doesn’t mean you have to be the cheapest, you just have to become a resource and give your client more than they expect…even if they don’t always know what to expect. “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”  -Simon Senek If you like this post and others like it.  Consider reading Simon Senek's book - Start with Why.
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