Why Your “Why” May Miss The Mark — And What You Can do About It


I touched a nerve yesterday.

In my Monday Mash-Up yesterday, I shared an article that called “B.S.” on Simon Sinek’s “start with why.”

I received lots of replies from subscribers who agreed. No one defended Sinek.

Sinek’s big idea from his 2010 TED talk, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” 

That idea caught fire. 

So for the past 12 years, companies around the globe have conducted brainstorming sessions to craft their WHY’s.

I sat through one of those sessions once when I was CEO of MarketVolt,  the email marketing company I ran for 19 years. 

One of my clients read Sinek’s book and then invited me and a small army of his employees to a half-day session to craft their WHY. 

They scribbled ideas on the white board. They pasted sticky notes on every inch of wall space. They laughed. They cried. They hugged. 

For five looonnnnggg hours, they talked about themselves – their history, their vision, their heartfelt origin story. 

They spent ZERO hours — not a single second — talking about their prospects and customers. 

And that, boys and girls, is a big, common problem. 

Your fancy WHY statements and origin stories are just a bunch of navel-gazing B.S…unless they reflect your prospects’ stories. 

Your story means nothing to them unless it reflects theirs. 

My client crafted a “WHY” statement that made them feel great – loaded with crap about doing good and changing the world.

I have nothing against doing good and changing the world. 

But it had nothing to do with why their prospects buy. And so it had no marketing value. 

Subscriber Susan T. nailed it in her reply to yesterday’s email: “​​I have spent years feeling that I am in the wilderness when it comes to ‘Knowing your Why.’ The why should get you out of bed each day, but other than that, it’s useless as a driver of business.”

…unless your why aligns with THEIR why. 

Why do prospects buy? Because they want to solve a problem, overcome a fear, achieve a goal, fulfill a dream. 

They want to journey from before (pain, confusion, struggle) to a better after (relief, clarity, success). 

Why do you exist? To help them on that journey.

If you don’t have that right, your why may make you feel good, but it won’t sell diddly. 

Whenever you’re ready…here are a few ways we can help you become a storytelling stand-out so you’ll land more clients:

1) Follow Tom Ruwitch on LinkedIn and Facebook and (if not subscribed already) join our email list.

2) Attend our free training: “How to Harness the Magnetic Power of Storytelling…” Discover how to transform marketing from a confusing, resource-draining hassle into something that’s simple, fun AND productive. Details and registration here.

3) Watch the free, 7-minute Micro-Training: “The 3 Most Important Storytelling Keys to Captivate Prospects and Inspire Them to Act -- Without Pitching and Prodding.”

4) Become a Story Power VIP in the Content Transformation Academy: Master how to discover, assemble, and deliver business-building stories. Weekly masterclasses. Members-only content. One-on-one feedback and consulting sessions. And more… If you'd like to learn more about our VIP program, just reply to this email and put "Story Power VIP" in the subject line. I’ll contact you with more details.

5) Work with me one-on-one: If you’re interested in working directly with me -- to discover, assemble, and deliver powerful, business-building stories -- simply reply to this email and change the subject line to "Private Client." Tell me a little about yourself, your business, and what you'd like to accomplish, and I'll reply to discuss options.

6) Invite me to speak at an event: I can tailor a presentation that meets the specific needs of your organization. Informative. Entertaining. Virtual or live. Potential for continuing education credits when applicable for your group. If interested, reply to this email and change the subject line to “Speaking Engagement.” I’ll circle back to discuss the possibilities.

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.