Start With Why
Are you familiar with Simon Sinek’s concept Start With Why?
(Learn more about his concept or watch his popular Ted talk here.)
The general premise is this: Great companies and leaders start with WHY they do what they do. The purpose or cause behind their work. Then they move to how and what.
Because, according to Sinek, people buy WHY you do what you do not WHAT you do.
So, as I rebrand my business to Engage The Room I wanted to share my WHY (and how and what) and get you thinking more about yours.
Power of Connection: Why I Do What I Do
Stressed and Stuck
In March 2006 I left a lucrative market research career to start a business.
So, there I was, a new business owner who needed to network with strangers, pitch prospects, share a vision, and inspire others to see my viewpoint. Having spent the first half of my career working “behind the scenes,” I didn’t have the skills or confidence to do any of those effectively and sometimes at all.
At networking events, I’d head straight into market research mode asking questions of everyone else yet rarely talking about my business. During presentations, I could feel my heart race, hear my voice quiver and see people tuning out. And sales? Well, let’s just say I didn’t want to bother people with what I had to say.
As a result, no one understood my work or how they could hire me. My business suffered. And I felt like an impostor. Everyone around me walked away with new opportunities while I walked away thinking, “What the heck have I done?”
This lead to a steady stream of stress instead of a steady stream of business.
At a crossroad, I needed to either get another marketing job or figure out how to talk to and engage people. Not ready to give up on the business, I made a courageous decision to beef up my skills.
So, I joined Toastmasters, hired personal and business coaches, took classes, read books and said “yes” to visibility opportunities. Anything to help me stick to my vision and commitment.
Sure, I made mistakes. Yes, the process was messy and sometimes physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually painful. At times I wanted to give up. But it was the result – the positive impact my voice had on others – that kept me motivated and gave my work purpose.
In Good Company
Over time my commitment paid off. Not only did I feel more at ease with these activities, I became more effective. And the more I put myself out there – taking risks, building relationships, sharing my vision and acting on ideas – the more I noticed that others like me – who were used to working behind the scenes – faced similar challenges.
While our business roles and responsibilities differed, we had the following in common:
We built successful careers “behind the scenes” – in finance, operations, technical or analytical jobs – and suddenly found ourselves in roles – manager, executive, entrepreneur – where we had to communicate often and be more visible. We felt uneasy and ill-prepared for these new, more visible, roles.
These were also some of the most thoughtful, caring, astute, curious and genuine people I’d ever met. And they had ideas that deserved to be heard.
This Work Chose Me
Funny thing. When you start to improve something about yourself, people notice, get curious and want to know how you did it. So, when people started asking me to help them improve their public speaking and communication skills, I said yes. Why? Because connection is- and always has been at the heart of everything I do. I want people to feel more connected to…
- The tools and support they need to be successful in business
- Their potential and ability to lead positive change and bring ideas to life
- A sense of purpose in business and life
- The people they work and live with
I believe that when we can bring our whole self to our work magic happens. Not only do we present ourselves more powerfully, build trust-based relationships and grow our influence and impact, we allow others to do the same.
Otherwise we live with stress, tension, conflict, misunderstandings, low trust and a lot of second guessing ourselves.
- That’s WHY I created Engage The Room: To bring out the best in people and their ideas.
- My HOW: Creating environments where people feel seen and heard.
- My WHAT: Coaching, speaking, facilitation, hosting events, producing podcasts and content that helps people present themselves better in all types of business settings. So they can build trust, increase influence and achieve desired results. (Learn more about programs and services here. Events, books and podcasts coming soon!)
What This Means for You
If this message resonates, and you are one of the many folks I talk to who are used to working behind the scenes in a technical or analytical role and suddenly find themselves in roles with more visibility and responsibility, you can learn to present yourself more powerfully, engage people and shine every time you speak.
You need what I call the 5Cs:
- Courage. If something is holding you back, you must be willing to let go of where you are and step into an unknown. That takes courage.
- Confidence. Bring your best and boldest self to every interaction.
- Communication. Get your message across in a clear, compelling way.
- Connection. To have real influence, people need to know you care.
- Commitment. Make a long term commitment to the work (I’m still on the journey)
Then you can more easily and powerfully:
- Pitch prospects. Oh yeah, bring it on.
- Lead positive change. Yes. You got this.
- Share your vision. Most definitely. The world needs it.
- Connect with anyone. No sweat. People are cool.
- Insert what you want to accomplish here.
Yes you can. I can help.
The Bottom line
The world needs more bright lights: People inspired to solve problems, connect people, and lead positive change. And when we have the courage, skills and support to express ourselves and our ideas whole-heartedly – as managers, executives, entrepreneurs, side hustlers, any role – we shine. And that gives others permission to do the same.
I want to be part of that world.
That’s why I do what I do.
Why do you do what you do?
Send me an email or leave a comment and let me know.
Your voice matters. Keep shining.
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Ready to use the power of connection to lead positive change? Learn more about communication coaching and facilitation services so you can communicate with ease and engage the room in all types of settings.