What is your why
While yes it may feel like a cliche while you’re trying to become known for something – whether that be building a business, starting a nonprofit, or becoming some type of online influencer – telling your story is not only critical if you want to develop a long term relationship with your audience, but it allows you to start marketing differently…be it more authentically.
I remember listening to Simon Sinek’s Start with Why TedTalk on YouTube – he gave a wonderful talk on why it’s so important to start with why. But I wasn’t clear on the framework on HOW to start with why. I built my own framework HERE on how you can discover your own why.
Anytime you’re trying to “sell” something, there are times when you’ll feel at odds with the system you’re using to sell if you’re not a trained salesperson. Growing up, I personally never thought of sales as something that was “bad” but I’m also the daughter of used car salesman, so my perception of sales is that it allowed us to have food on our tables.
And that’s always a good place to start.
Who were you as a child? Who were your parents? What did they do? How did that make you feel?
You probably never looked back at your upbringing as the source of why you did what you do today or even why you’re passionate about your career or solving the problems that you solve – but I can guarantee you that the seed was planted in your heart as a child. Something happened that has stuck with you in some way, shape, or form.
For me, this all started as my mom was never the breadwinner. She worked hard over 40 hours a week with a Master’s Degree at a University that disrespected her the whole time she was there – and that was since she graduated from that very same school. She worked for over 20 years there and she barely got a raise – capping at close to $38,000.
Yet, she remained loyal.
She did everything she was supposed to – her concern was having health insurance for me and my four siblings and my dad.
She left at 7:30 every morning and returned after 5 pm for over twenty years. When she finally left to move to Virginia, when she and my dad divorced, they gave her a university throw blanket.
Twenty years of her life with barely an annual raise year after year, and her parting gift was a throw blanket embroidered with the school logo that they sold at the University gift store for $39.95.
I remember this small detail while a lot of other details of my childhood have been forgotten to protect myself. And I never really consciously thought about this story until I met with a branding expert who helped me tap into “my why”. Prior to this, I didn’t really know why I cared so much about why I wanted women to be able to make money or support themselves financially.
I had my daughter when I was 23 years old. I went from married with a young daughter to a single mom living with my own mom. I was poor and unable to afford to pay for daycare so I could go to work. I would bring my daughter to work with me even though it went against company policies. The ironic thing is I was getting paid to watch other children (whose parents were working) at an after-school program that I couldn’t afford myself. I wasn’t allowed to watch after my own two-year-old daughter at this program that was dedicated to helping make childcare more affordable. I couldn’t even afford to get a one-bedroom apartment in the area I lived…so I lived with my mom for those first three years.
And coincidentally, I did it because I needed health insurance for my daughter.
I got away with bringing her to work with me for three years until I finally left to pursue my dream of becoming a photographer.
My why has nothing to do with photography, however.
My why stems back to the fact women – especially mothers in my own case – will spend the majority of their lives doing a job only to be underappreciated so they can have health insurance or they can “make ends meet”. Not because it lights their soul on fire or because it’s something they feel is enriching their lives in some way.
This is my why.
I watched my dad build his business and do what he truly loved as a business owner. He went to auctions, sold cars, and built up his used car lot. He was passionate about what he did. He was also financially rewarded very well for being a businessman. His income was the one we truly lived on.
Whereas my mom worked long hours, wasn’t home with us in the summers, and wasn’t treated well at work only to make enough for health insurance and grocery money. She was even educated with her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. But even with those two degrees, she never made more than 38,000 doing what she majored in with her computer science degree.
My why isn’t about men getting paid more than women. It’s about women not taking chances by building their own businesses. It’s about women not knowing it’s possible to make an extra 100K doing something they love. It’s about women becoming mothers and “taking one for the team” while neglecting their own future by focusing on the immediate win of taking care of their child(ren) instead of building something bigger.
My why is rooted in wanting to inspire and help empower as many mothers and future mothers how they too can make a difference in their lives and their family lives by making that extra 20K, 50K, 100K, or Million per year by pursuing that passion that has been brewing in them.
I went from $17/hour to over $650,000 in sales year after year with that little photography business passion I pursued. This isn’t about how you can build your own photography business – but rather how you can use digital marketing, social media, and online resources that are currently available to you to take your hobby and become financially free.
I want you to have choices in your life. You DESERVE to have choices in your life.
You are not meant to spend twenty years of your life dedicated to something that at the end of the day is wrapped up in a $39.95 throw blanket.