All Posts in Purpose

July 1, 2016 - No Comments!

Why It Pays to Start with “Why”

This question has plagued existentialists since the 19th century: Why did the chicken cross the road?

Speculate all you want, but how would you know? Are you a chicken?

Maybe you live like one and don't realize it ... You wake up, go to work, go home, watch TV, go to bed. You wake up, go to work, go to the gym, watch Netflix, go to bed. You wake up, go to work—ooh, here comes the weekend! Repeat.

Yes, life runs us around like chickens with our heads off, sometimes. But heads up, you are not a chicken. For the most part, people live intentionally, not aimlessly; there's motive behind everything we do. Even for the mundane activities in our lives. You just have to ask "why" enough to find out. Try it:

Why do you exercise? So I can be healthy.

Why do you want to be healthy? So I can look attractive and feel good about myself.

Why do you want to look good? So I can be accepted and find a partner.

Why do you want a life partner? Because I don’t want to be alone ...

Why? Why do you do what you do?

Who wants to know?

Entrepreneurs, CEOs, marketers, strategists, ideators and leaders, you know this without even knowing it—it's your responsibility to understand peoples' "why." More importantly, though, you should know your own.

Why? Influence and purpose. If you want support for your end game, show customers and team members you value them as people, not as means to an end game. Even better, recognize and support their end games. Align your mission with their values and you will inspire a community of purpose-driven individuals ready to go all-in with you. (You have to mean it, though!)

Example: "To get to the other side” doesn’t actually answer why the chicken crossed the road. It simply states what the chicken accomplishes by crossing the road.

In business, a sales goal is a “what.” Companies driven by sales will always compete in markets through manipulation—whatever it takes to get to that number—be it sales, rebates, layaways, BOGOs, etc. Every year the number goes up. And every year they scramble to the finish line.

The most successful influencers and entrepreneurs in history, however, start with “why.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “why” was his dream of equality. Steve Jobs’ “why” was “to challenge the status quo” and inspire others to think differently. The Wright brothers’ “why” for inventing the airplane wasn’t to be first in flight. They simply had an itch to make the impossible possible.

The accomplishments of these leaders were merely byproducts of the causes they stood for and convictions they stood on.

If your brand can envision a why beyond a quarterly or yearly goal, you’ll be able to genuinely connect with people. And if you clearly state your why through a unifying vision statement, you’ll motivate your employees to reach said goals. With a truly inspiring why, you’ll receive the golden ticket from customers: loyalty.

A formula for inspiration:

Start with WHY - The vision or inspiration.
Answer HOW - The mission or strategy.
Determine WHAT - The product or call to action.

Image result for start with why

Dell—a brand without a why—will always compete in the marketplace with other computer manufacturers. Never lead. Their communication looks something like this:

We make great computers. (WHAT)
They’re beautifully designed and user-friendly. (HOW)
Want to buy one?

Apple, however, will always be a leader in the market because their vision statement is at the core of everything they do. They inspire people to identify with their brand by starting with why they exist:

We challenge the status quo and invite you to think differently, too. (WHY)
We do this by creating beautifully designed products that are user-friendly. (HOW)
And we happen to make great computers. (WHAT) Would you like one?

It’s not a pitch. It’s a counterculture rally cry.

If you’re a business owner, a leader or just a curious thinker, you might want to study this concept more by reading the book Start With Why, by Simon Sinek.

It could change your perspective on what’s important in your mission, your bottom line and even your life.

Thank you for thinking!

February 4, 2016 - No Comments!

MVP: Morals. Values. Principles.

“Arrogant. Cry baby. Scam.” Call Cam Newton what you want, but you have to respect him for winning and having fun doing it. He walks, talks and dresses like someone who knows exactly who he is, what he wants and what he’s capable of.

That self-knowing is a dangerous thing in a society polluted with noise, narcissism and negativity, but don’t confuse his confidence with cockiness.

Cockiness will empty your pocket; confidence has no budget. And the Carolina Panthers’ roster is strung with misfits and outcasts who know what it’s like to be undervalued.

Newton is a hands-down, nigh-automatic for the regular season MVP award, but what’s been most impressive about his performance this year has been the development of his character. Anyone who's followed him can attest that he hasn’t always played with the zeal that permeates the Panthers organization today.

Between his rejection from the University of Florida after a stolen laptop, which landed him a stint in junior college (’09), the allegations of his father accepting money for Cam to play D1 football (’10), two standout NFL seasons marred with a sulking demeanor (’11-’12) and his escape from a car accident (’14), his past is peppered with trials that have helped mold him as a leader.

Newton scratched and clawed his way to MVP status.

It wasn’t just his on-field performance that got him there, though. His attitude — poise, competitiveness and an enthusiasm for playing — makes him the unstoppable force he is. His maturation has been the final piece of the puzzle that took him from mug shot to shot at the Super Bowl.

MVP isn’t an award for accomplishments and statistics. It’s a game face for life. I share this acronym when challenging peers to live a more fulfilled life: MVP = Morals, Values, Principles.

Know what these are for yourself and you’ll know more clearly who you are, what you want and what you’re capable of.

Here's an example ...

Morals Values Principles
In short:
Right- vs. wrong-willed conduct. What is acceptable behavior according to your individual standards. The intrinsic worth or merit you place on any given thing, concept or persons, with regard to priority and vested interest. Individual (or universal) “truths” learned or acquired by experience, used as a foundation for behaviors.
In practice:
Regrettable decisions or actions in life do not align with your moral code (and vice-versa). “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”– Matthew 6:21 Do as you do, not as you say.
Moral Code

·     Faith

·     Hope

·     Love

·     Kindness

·     Goodness

·     Self-control

·     Honesty

·     Friendship

·     Sound Learning

·     Rectitude

·     Equality

·     Respect


·      Relationship with God

·      Family/Friends/Community

·      Wisdom

·      Health

·      Wealth

·      Travel

·      Experiences

·      Liberty

·      Individualism

·      Life


·     Be impeccable with your word.

·     Don’t take anything personally.

·     Don’t make assumptions.

·     Always do your best.

·     Give respect and you will get respect.

·     People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

·     If there’s no enemy within, there can be no enemy outside.

NOTE: A seemingly unfortunate side effect to a life fully lived is that we often face mistakes before we can classify our MVP formulas.

December 18, 2015 - No Comments!

Our Life’s Work: Lessons From M.C. Escher

“In mathematical quarters, the regular division of the plane has been considered theoretically ... [Mathematicians] have opened the gate leading to an extensive domain, but they have not entered this domain themselves. By their very nature they are more interested in the way in which the gate is opened than in the garden lying behind it.” – M.C. Escher

Forget your theories and calculations. M.C. Escher had a vision and needed to project it in a very specific way. Simple as that.

In his infinite realm of tessellation, impossible constructions and regular divisions of the plane, Escher merged beauty and complexity with the precision of a mathematician. Unlike scholars of his time, though, he wasn’t concerned with formulas that explained his work. He found something that made him tick and just went with it.

Escher discovered his passion early and mastered it over a lifetime, producing 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings, as well as over 2000 drawings and sketches. By volume then, he is the masterpiece, not the pieces themselves.

While he will always be remembered for his impossible staircases, checkerboard patterns and drawing hands, the most inspiring part of his story is the maturation of himself through his workmanship. His life was the work of art.

We all have this in us. It’s the same for musicians and their compositions, dancers and their choreographies, and even mathematicians with their calculations. It’s an innate desire to express thoughts, feelings and ideas in ways that cannot be done simply, or even sincerely, with words alone.

As proven through Escher, the most authentic way to live is to find out what makes us tick—and just go with it.

Consider these lessons from Escher to begin sketching your life as a work of art:

Perception is reality.

“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” – Anaïs Nin


See: Hand with Reflecting Sphere, 1935

Everything is connected.

Checkers. Flies. Tiles are reptiles. Bees are butterflies. Fish are boats, and fish again. Farm animals are birds. Mail flies. Birds fly. They both fly to the city. Now let’s play chess.

Did I miss something?


See: Metamorphosis III, 1968-67

We are control freaks.

“We adore chaos because we love to produce order.” – M.C. Escher

How often do we box the world in around us in ways that make the most sense to us, rather than observing life with an objective point-of-view?

Image result for escher box

See: Thinking Outside the Box

Let true beauty be.

Escher rarely used his wife, Jetta, as a subject. Though he adored her, he recognized that some beauty can’t be duplicated, nor should it be tampered with. With the exception of Bond of Union (1956), Escher’s pieces featuring Jetta were printed without his signature twists on reality.

The Salvador Dali museum in St. Petersburg, FL., once hosted a sketch of his nude wife which I haven't been able to identify online. The portrait was drawn with her turned away from the artist and her features are subtle, not exaggerated, as you might find in modern photography for models. From that image, you get the sense that he loved her exactly the way she was and wouldn’t dare alter her appearance.


See: Portrait of Jetta, 1925

It’s all about perspective.

Eyesight vs. mind-sight: Do you judge according to appearances or by interpretation of what you see?

Like many artists, Escher’s early pieces reveal moments of his artistic self-discovery. Coast of Amalfi (1931), for example, is a snapshot of a landscape that became a focal point for many later pieces. Peering under the shade of a tree, into the distance, you get a glimpse of Escher’s curiosity for perspective and vanishing horizons.


See: Coast of Amalfi, 1931

Remember your creator.

Every person is hardwired to create. We’ve been endowed this way because we are designed in God’s image, and He created us. Therefore, we create. We construct. We produce. We make things happen.

So, what's your vision and what are you doing with it?


See: The Sixth Day of Creation, 1926

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