Remember your why

24.10.11 | Posted in Entrepreneurship Women & Business Women In Business

One of my favourite books in the world is Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. Have you read it? If not, run out and buy it now. Hang on, no one does that any more – just google it and some online bookstore will have it to you in days.

Start With Why Cover Book Image Simon Sinek

Start With Why Cover Book Image Simon Sinek

I’ve been thinking about my ‘why’ a lot lately. Perhaps it’s cos I received this cool message from a friend of mine recently:

“Emma, Too funny, that you don’t think you can sell yourself. You are inspiring just by being.
So, here’s what I think is missing (she says bravely and perhaps foolishly, based on a 10 minute speech and reading a series of blogs you’ve predominantly written about your perceptions of others or other situations) – You talk about “what” you’ve done, and “how” you’ve done it, but not “why” you’ve done it. The “why” is in your eyes and your heart and in your reputation as a leader and a businesswoman. It’s clear. And your “why” is generous and all about others. You just have to articulate that story up front.”

I was also thinking about my ‘why’ over lunch with a girlfriend yesterday. She has a business that posts annual revenues of $35 million+ and one of her goals is to reach $100 million. When I asked her why that was important she was very clear. She has several why’s but one of the main reasons is that as a woman in business, she feels she will never be fully respected by men until she can show that massive number. Now, a lot of people would argue that her achievements are already impressive and why must she strive for that number, but as a fellow woman in business, I totally got it.

A few years back I entered some awards for women in business. In one of my interviews, the judges were two guys and you want to know how one of them started the interview? Like this: “So, chicks in business – tell us about that?” with a huge smirk on his face (he did actually scoff as he said it) like I was running some backyard show that was not for real and not to be taken seriously. Needless to say it totally threw me off and I struggled to get back on track, knowing that he thought what I did was some silly little activity, rather than a multi-million dollar business that has an impact on hundreds of thousands of people each year like it is.

Like my friend, I’m also clear on my why, and I’ve surprised myself that it’s taken me so long to articulate it here. Why I do what I do at Business Chicks is because I want to be a light for other women. I want to show them that anything’s possible, whether that be in business, with their financial independence and success, in philanthropy, in childbirth, whatever … I want to lift them up and celebrate their achievements. I want them to be rich beyond their wildest dreams, to be powerful in their careers and businesses, to be great mothers, to be great friends, daughters, sisters … I want to challenge people’s thinking on issues and give people the confidence to have courage, be brave, be different, give back, leave a legacy, have skin in the game, back themselves, fail lots, and get up and try again.

And why do I want that for others? Perhaps selfishly, it’s because it’s what I want for myself. 

What’s your why?


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  1. Joey

    Em, what a fabulous, inspiring post – that final paragraph is a brilliant insight into your why. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. J

    HI Emma, I loved this post. I work in a very male sales environment, and it’s really challenging sometimes as I am the ONLY female. Occasionally I get the odd joke here or there about it and I probably don’t realise how strong of character I am for being able to handle the amount of testosterone around me!

    Some days it’s hard to stay motivated with all the ego’s, but you’re right, I have very clear goals to meet because I don’t see the difference between what the top sales guy can achieve and what I’m capable of! It probably drives me further to succeed… Thanks again, and have a great day :-)

  3. Janine Garner

    Wonderful post Emma and your friend is right – you absolutely are an inspiration for just being and the results of your passion – Business Chicks – is a truly amazing resource and community.

    For me the why is also clear.

    Why have I launched “Script Marketing”? – because I want to share my experience, knowledge, skills and proven results with others to build the magic that I know still exists in retail, with brands and in consumers. Because I believe that every business has its own unique Script, its own unique voice, its own unique why…and a cookie cutter approach to marketing no longer works. Because I want to help others achieve the success and results that I have achieved time and time again through effective marketing and I, personally, get a real buzz from seeing these results and seeing businesses grow. That lightbulb moment with clients of “now I get it” is the star on my chart.

    And why did I launch the “Little Black Dress Group” – because I want to connect, inspire, educate and motivate others to achieve their dreams, to acknowledge and celebrate their successes and to be proud of their achievements. Because I value the sisterhood, collaboration, accessible leadership and doing business with honesty, integrity and a golden thread of reciprocity. Because I value intelligent, challenging debate and conversations and I want to create a safe and secure space to share and collaborate. I want to create an opportunity to give back and pay it forward – to create a legacy that we can all enjoy.

    And like you, Emma, because selfishly “this is what I want for myself”.

  4. Sara Lucas

    I love this, and before I saw it was just discussing the same topic with a friend too!
    It’s so important to understand your ‘why,’ without knowing why you do what you do, it’s all somehow, without purpose. My ‘why’ is very similar to yours, it’s to change the way women care for themselves, to ensure that the financial bedrock under their life choices is solid and indeed, allows choices at all so they can be who they want to be.
    Women can influence control their destinies, and it’s my mission to make it so. Like you, because having grown up on the edge of boom or bust, I want that security for myself and my family too.
    Sara x

  5. Stacey

    I started to write my why and it sounded exactly like yours, so I’ll have what she’s having and BTW, this post has helped me MORE than your computer screen will ever let you comprehend! Hope you are enJOYing your new dynamics and juggling those balls EXACTLY that way Em knows best x

  6. Sara Lucas

    I liked your post about being the sole female in a male environment. When you ask the why, hold onto the answer and keep it close to your heart. That way, you keep ‘you’, your natural behaviours and you avoid the fog of cognitive dissonance. Be free to be you J, in every feminine way you can and you will shine! Sara

  7. katie

    I articulated my ‘why’ at the start of the year and it felt so damn good and it was received really well! I’m now working with entrepreneurs to let their ‘why’s’ be visual, online – with, wait for it… Y Session photography. Such a brilliant understanding to have & show of yourself, your own unique ‘why’s’ :) x