Knowing Your WHY Is Not Enough

Knowing Your WHY Is Not Enough

Don’t JUST Know Your Why

I am still blown away by the story of the MP3 player and I’m not talking about the iPod. You have probably heard the story by now – a company out of Singapore called Custom Technologies created the technology for the MP3 and eventually released the device some 20 months before Apple ever dropped the first iPod. But it is probably fair to say more people know of Apple, Inc. than know of Custom Technologies (full disclosure I had to look them up for this story).

But why is that? Sure, Apple has dominated the MP3 market for a while. Ironically, with the sales success of the iPhone they no longer produce dedicated MP3 players. And we all know the ‘designed by Apple in California’ motto, and Cali is much closer to our collective market minds than anywhere in Singapore. However, we all know that deep down there is something else at play in Apple’s iPod success and Custom’s MP3 anonymity – the Why.


That’s right. And we have all heard it before, ‘know your why.’ Know why you sell, do, love, live and believe in what you do. Know your why. What we do is easy to share, but why we do it is much more challenging. However, the point of this article is not to remind you to know your why – you already know it – but rather to take the all-important next step in knowing how to communicate your why.

It’s one thing to know your why. It is an entirely different skill set to be able to clearly and compellingly communicate it. Here are three helpful ideas to get you started:

  1. Create a storyboard to communicate your why. No, you will most likely never share this with anyone outside of your organization, but it helps take the creative and hard to express ideas of WHY and puts them in to pictures, clusters and other groupings so as to eventually help you put it into words. Here’s an app that we like to help with this process – Penultimate by Evernote.
  2. Share your WHY with others. Yes, that right. Practice your why on people within your organization who care enough about you and the mission of the organization to give you critical feedback.  This is not feedback from your mom or significant other. This is feedback from someone who likes to share their opinions with others. Just remember to filter the feedback. A good line to remember is: Chew up the meat; spit out the bones. Or in other words, take what is helpful, process it and leave the rest on the table to be thrown out.
  3. Work your WHY into casual conversations. When it comes to WHY you work for an organization and WHY someone should give to help that organization, your WHY is critical and will eventually permeate many non-job areas of your life. As you stroll through the coffee shop, the gym, your church or any other places in life, be willing to share your WHY.  The more you share it, the more naturally it will be communicated when it truly counts.

When it came to that MP3 player for Custom Technologies, they marketed it by saying 5gb of Music MP3 player. However, when Apple debuted the iPod, they marketed it by saying, ‘1000 songs in your pocket.’  Which would you choose? Or better asked, which did you choose?! Apple’s marketing was better (the What) because they understood they are a lifestyle brand, and it is through that lens they market.  The WHY makes all the difference.  Know yours, and just as importantly, know how to communicate it.

To learn more about using your WHY to secure major donors in 2019, register for our webinar on Tuesday, January 15th, at Noon ET. It’s FREE! – Register HERE.

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