Feb 20

Stop being boring! Start with why

I like to say that my job is part strategy and part therapy. The strategy part is obvious: I help businesses figure out their content strategy to get the attention of their target audience.

Most often their content fails in one of three areas: Either what they’re saying is too sales-focused, it’s overly general, or it simply lacks energy, passion, that mysterious Élan vital. In a world where the average reader consumes media from dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of sources and authors, the fact is that bland, uninspired stories aren’t worth the time they took to write.

This is where the therapy part kicks in, and it seems to come as a surprise to many of my clients – they don’t get why it matters what they do in their free time or why they started this business a decade ago, or what they look for in good employees. “What does that have to do with selling anything?” they ask. This is where the fun begins. We start taking apart their marketing message and filling in the gaps with the passion and energy they bring to their work.

In this fantastic  TED talk, Simon Sinek talks about the reasons this works – why we resonate with messages that “Start With Why.” This video could almost replace an entire semester of “Branding” in a marketing curriculum. It’s that important.

I’ve been sharing this video whenever I have someone’s attention. It got great reviews in our Marketing Strategy Classroom, and when I shared it with a a group of students at the University of Texas, it sparked a fantastic discussion about how your “Why” matters in the job search.

Take 18 minutes to start unpacking your own “Why” – either personally or for your business. I promise it’s worth your time:


  1. I love Simon’s video…he is right on about “why.” John Jantsch also talks about this – his new Four Ps of marketing: passion, personality, purpose and positioning. The first three are all about the “why.”

    Great post Jen,thanks!

  2. Fernando, I haven’t read Jantsch’s new stuff, I’ll have to check that out. Thanks for the tip!


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