What happens when we forget our WHY?

Why do you do what you do?

At the end of the day, this is the question that matters most of all. I see a lot of companies these days celebrating funding. “X Company Secures $96 Million in Series B Funding,” “Y Company Raises $150 Million at their IPO”…

Why is THAT what we are celebrating now? Why aren’t we celebrating the achievements of our customers? Why don’t the headlines read “Customers of X Company Have Higher Morale Than Ever Before” or “Y Company Helps 1 Millionth Customer Grow Their Business.”

Why are we celebrating the showers of money being given to companies instead of the contributions to the world given by companies? The question is why.

I think it’s because people are afraid and prideful. Afraid to be the one, the only one, who steps up and says “things should be different” because they might be wrong. Prideful because we want to “win”, and if funding is the game that everyone is playing, then I better win that game. At least that’s the story we tell ourselves.

Or maybe we just don’t know WHY ourselves. If we can’t even explain why it is we do what we do ourselves, then we just point to the most obvious thing: the money.

“We run a great, big company. Everyone loves us, and we have an amazing culture. There’s free food, ping pong, and a fat vacation bonus that everyone gets once a year. Our products are innovative, we serve half of the Fortune 500, and everything we touch turns to gold… I don’t really know WHY we do all this, WHY we exist, or WHY we get out of bed in the morning, but there’s sure a lot of money involved in it, so come along for the ride!”

You have to be able to explain WHY you do what you do, and inspire people to follow you using THAT. If you don’t, you risk the long term.

I’ll show you an example… an example we all typically revere and admire for their brilliance, relevance, and example of innovation: Apple.

Yes, folks. There are cracks showing in Apple. It’s happening slowly, don’t get me wrong. I am not insinuating that Apple will die tomorrow! All I’m saying is that iPhone sales are down, some investors are worried, and Apple’s market value dropped by $450 billion in January.

Remember the good old days when Apple ads focused on people who were different? The old ads with silhouettes dancing to the music in their iPods? The “I’m a Mac v. I’m a PC” commercials? Those efforts that personified the values, beliefs, and feelings that come with being an Apple user?

Today, there is hardly any sign of those messages from the tech giant. They focus on their colorful retina display, powerful performance features, the speed, their A12 bionic chip. The things that the people who once fell in love with Apple didn’t care that much about.

It’s the ones who care about WHY, who share their beliefs, and have the courage to do so that will succeed in the long run. They inspire people, and they help us feel something. And no matter how much people don’t want to admit, we are emotional, irrational creatures. We are moved by emotion, and we care about how we feel, not just what the “numbers” say.

So, next time you see a celebration of someone’s next funding round, or a company who talks all about their size and speed and greatness but nothing about what they believe or the change they seek to make in the world, I hope you’ll remember these words, and I hope you’ll ask WHY.

When you DO know your why, the next thing to clear on is HOW.  HOW will you serve more customers at a high level?  WE created PowerChats, a conversational customer experience tool for your website, to help you do that.  Check it out at powerchats.com, and schedule a live demo.  

 Zac Garside is the Marketing and e-Learning manager at Power Selling Pros.  He loves to inspire people, and loves a good bowl of mango sticky rice.